Louisiana Senator Resigns Amid Probe Into Her 20-Year Gambling Addiction

  • Karen Carter Peterson has long struggled with her depression and gambling addiction
  • She has received outpatient and inpatient treatment in the past for gambling issues
  • A federal investigation is looking into the former senator’s finances and addiction
  • Her struggles came to light in 2019 in media reports about a misdemeanor summons
Empty congress hall
A Louisiana lawmaker has resigned suddenly amid an ongoing federal investigation into her gambling addiction and finances. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Focusing on recovery

A Louisiana senator has suddenly stepped down from her position amid a federal investigation into her two-decade-long gambling addiction.

long-running battles with chronic gambling and depression

Karen Carter Peterson announced her resignation on Friday, saying that she needs to focus on her long-running battles with chronic gambling and depression.

In a statement, the 52-year-old said: “I must place all of my energy on my mental health and personal well-being, and therefore have tendered my resignation effective immediately.” She made the full statement available via her Twitter account:

The New Orleans Democrat has received outpatient and inpatient treatment in the past for her gambling struggles. A recent attempt to help promote responsible gambling came last month when she sponsored a bill that made March Louisiana’s Problem Gambling Awareness Month. 

An ongoing federal investigation

The details of the federal investigation into the former state senator are currently unclear, but it does relate to her gambling addiction and finances. The Louisiana Democratic Party chapter has declined to comment on anything to do with the investigation.

Senate President Page Cortez confirmed on Saturday that the Senate has not received a subpoena or any similar request for information about Peterson from the federal authorities.

Peterson’s personal financial disclosure for 2021 is due in May. In her 2020 disclosure, she listed $22,000 in income for her work as a senator, as well as $109,000 earned while working as a lawyer for a corporate law firm.

Some other bills that Peterson has pushed in the past relate to providing more higher education opportunities, cancer patient treatment, and the rights of human trafficking victims.

A long political career

Peterson’s struggles with gambling first became public knowledge in February 2019. Local media reported that Peterson had received a misdemeanor summons following a gambling session at a casino in Baton Rouge. Gambling addicts in Louisiana who are on a self-exclusion list will get a summons if they do not abstain from entering casinos.

went public with her gambling-related struggles

Following the media reports about her misdemeanor, Peterson resigned as the Louisiana Democratic Party chair. She also went public with her gambling-related struggles and outlined how she had occasionally relapsed.

Peterson’s career in politics spanned nearly three decades, including two unsuccessful runs for Congress in recent years. She first won election to the House in 1999 and to the Senate in 2010. Peterson’s term was not scheduled to end until June 2023. Officials will now find a replacement for her position in the fall.