Louisiana Gambling History: From Smashing Slot Machines To 22 Casinos Operating Today

Gov. Robert F. Kennon was governor of Louisiana from 1952-1956.
It was almost 60 years ago when Louisiana State Police Superintendent Francis Grevemberg started making surprise raids on gambling establishments in the 50’s and seized and smashed slot machines, rendering them to the point of which they were completely useless.
Grevemberg and his associates made 1,000 raids and destroyed 8,229 slot machines during 1952-1956 when Gov. Robert F. Kennon was the governor of Louisiana.
Gangster Frank Costello was forced out of the slot machine business in New York City when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia destroyed the machines and pushed them into a watery grave in the 30’s.
Senator Huey P. Long sensing a chance to make some quick money offered Costello a deal, where he could set up his slot machines in Louisiana, with Long demanding ten percent of the profits.
That is how Louisiana became saturated with slot machines and Grevemberg was given the task of ridding the state of slot machines.
Former Louisiana governor, Edwin Edwards was a Crowley attorney at the time and argued that the slot machines were legal, since they were being taxed by the state. For more on the raids and the history of slot machines see this Eunice Today article:
Louisiana State Police Superintendent Francis Grevemberg shown smashing slot machines during a raid in the 50’s on a gambling establishment during the Gov. Robert F. Kennon administration.
Governor Earl K. Long took office in 1956 and ordered a stop to the destruction of slot machines. Little did Long or anyone else for that matter foresee that the gambling industry was down, but not down for the count.
Now it is almost 60 years later and slot machines are in operation, by the thousands in Louisiana casinos. There are now 22 casinos in operation currently in the state of Louisiana.
With the proliferation of casinos today in Louisiana, the chances of slot machines being destroyed are slim and none. The taxes from the casinos are pouring into Louisiana coffers and any opposition to gambling casinos is probably a waste of time.
So instead of smashing slot machines being smashed, they are kept in good repair, so the state of Louisiana can continue to reap tax dollars from their use.

Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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