Eldorado Resorts got the green light from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) to move its Isle of Capri riverboat casino, which docks in Westlake, La., to dry land. It became the first operator in the state to win such an approval.
Last year, Louisiana lawmakers passed a bill that was later signed by Governor John Bel Edwards (D) allowing the state’s 15 riverboats to come onto land, with the stipulation that gaming operations are to be held within 1,200 feet of the original licensed docking site.
As Casino.org reported in August 2018, it was believed at that time that three Louisiana riverboat casinos wanted to come ashore. They included Belle of Baton Rouge, also an Eldorado venue, the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, and an unidentified venue.
I’d like to congratulate y’all for being number one and setting the bar,” said LGCB board member Julie Berry, who represents the Lake Charles area, home to several riverboat casinos.
A copy of the LGCB’s Dec. 19 meeting agenda obtained by Casino.org confirms the agency discussed Eldorado’s pitch to move the Isle of Capri onto dry land, and that the matter was unanimously approved.
The law passed in Louisiana last year allows operators that bring riverboat casinos ashore to significantly expand their gaming areas. That legislation undid a previous cap of gaming space of just 30,000 square feet, while allowing gaming companies to add more slot machines and table games.
Reno-based Eldorado plans to take advantage of that opportunity in Louisiana. The company said it will spend nearly $113 million for a land-based casino that will feature 72,000 square feet of gaming space, 1,271 slots, and 46 table games. In its current form, the Isle of Capri has just 36 table games and barely more than 1,100 gaming machines.
Eldorado plans to commence construction on the land-based gaming property at the end of next month and is targeting a May 2021 opening.
Included in the law allowing riverboat casinos to come on land is a requirement for enhanced economic contributions on operators’ parts. Though 22 maritime-related jobs will be cut when Isle of Capri comes ashore, Eldorado will employ 804 people on land, compared to 735 on the riverboat. Plus, more than 300 construction jobs will be created to build the brick-and-mortar gaming property.
Large In Louisiana
Eldorado has a significant footprint in the Pelican State, one that will grow with its $17.3 billion purchase of Caesars Entertainment. That deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.
In addition to the Isle of Capri, the company runs the Belle of Baton Rouge and the Eldorado Casino Resort in Shreveport.
Officials expect to rename their Lake Charles property after completing the merger, though a new brand has not been chosen,” reports New Orleans City Business.
Caesars currently operates Louisiana’s lone land-based casino – Harrah’s New Orleans – as well as Harrah’s Louisiana Downs and the Horseshoe Bossier City.
It remains to be seen if the combined company divests a Pelican State property or two. But analysts have mentioned the market as one where Eldorado could part with a venue to reduce concentration and raise cash.