Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has appointed Lieutenant Colonel Mike Noel as the new chairman of the state’s Gaming Control Board.
Noel will replace Ronnie Jones, who had led the regulatory body since 2013 but was not reappointed to the role during a legislative session at the Louisiana Senate earlier this week.
A member of the Louisiana State Police for over 30 years, Noel was named as assistant superintendent andchief of staff in June 2017, a role in which he was responsible for overseeing 1,700 staff and a budget in excess of $300m.
Prior to this, Noel was command inspector of the Gaming Enforcement Division and also had a spell on the Riverboat Economic Development and Gaming Task Force from 2016 until 2017.
“I have spent my entire professional life in public service and I am excited to continue that service as chairman of the Gaming Control Board,” Noel said.
“I look forward to building upon the success of chairman Jones’ tenure by continuing to work with the Board, elected officials, industry representatives and the public to promote economic development and ensure the integrity of gaming in Louisiana.”
Governor Edwards added: “LTC Noel brings a wealth of experience and knowledge and has served the state well during his tenure with State Police, which is why I have no doubt he will do the same in this new role.”
The appointment comes after the reopening of a number of casinos in Louisiana, following a period of temporary closure forced by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Casinos have been permitted to resume operations in the state since May 18, subject to operators adhering to a host of new healthy and safety measures aimed at protecting customers and employees.
Penn National Gaming has reopened its five casinos in Louisiana, while Boyd Gaming’s Delta Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel, Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel and Treasure Chest Casino are also open again.
Churchill Downs Incorporated also resumed activities at its 12 off-track betting locations featuring video poker and simulcast wagering in the state.
Meanwhile, a bill to arrange a parish-by-parish referendum on whether to legalise sports betting in Louisiana last week passed the state House of Representatives.
SB130 passed by a 71-24 vote without any amendments in the House, having also passed the Senate earlier this month. As there were no amendments, it will go to the Senate only to be enrolled rather than for a vote, and will then be sent to the governor’s desk.