Belle of Baton Rouge $35M Move Largely Covered by Gaming and Leisure Properties

Posted on: September 20, 2022, 04:41h. 

Last updated on: September 21, 2022, 02:06h.

The Belle of Baton Rouge last week received state approval to move the riverboat ashore. The relocation project, expected to cost about $35 million, will largely be on the landlord’s tab

Belle of Baton Rouge riverboat Louisiana casino
An aerial view of the Belle of Baton Rouge shows the resort’s Atrium connected to the floating riverboat casino by two enclosed walkways. The landlord and operator of the Louisiana casino are moving the casino’s gaming operations ashore in part of a $35 million revamping of the downtown property. (Image: The Advocate)

Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. (GLPI) acquired the Belle of Baton Rouge in 2018 from Eldorado Resorts, which later became Caesars Entertainment. CQ Holding Company purchased the operating rights of the Louisiana capital city’s oldest casino in May from Caesars for an undisclosed sum.

CQ is an Illinois-based gaming operator that also runs Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge, the city’s other downtown riverboat. The company is moving both riverboats ashore after Louisiana lawmakers in 2018 allowed riverboats to move inland, so long as they remain within 1,200 feet (or about a quarter of a mile) from their designated barges.

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) agreed to allow the historic Belle located at 103 France Street to relocate from the Mississippi River to land. The 16,500-square-foot gaming space will relocate to the casino property’s Atrium adjacent to the resort’s parking garage and hotel.

Of the estimated $35 million renovation cost, GLPI has committed to bankrolling $28 million. CQ will be on the hook for the remaining $7 million. CQ leases the casino’s operations from GLPI at a rate expected to increase once the renovation is completed.

Bells and Whistles

In applying for state authorization to move the Belle of Baton Rouge inland, CQ Holding Company provided the LGCB with a project overview. CQ additionally operates DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Il., and Casino Queen Marquette in Iowa.

The Belle of Baton Rouge Atrium spans approximately 50K square feet. The glass-enclosed structure is currently used as a buffet, restaurant, and entertainment space. The casino’s overhaul will greatly update the Atrium and modernize the space with new amenities and attractions.

CQ says the casino, once moved, will offer about 350 slot machines, 14 table games, and a sportsbook. The Atrium remodel will also welcome new dining options, including an oyster bar and café.

We are thrilled with the Louisiana Gaming Control Board’s decision to approve Belle of Baton Rouge’s landside move,” said Terry Downey, president and CEO of CQ Holding Company. “In acquiring this casino, we have looked forward to the tremendous potential in moving the Belle to land.

“We look forward to serving the Baton Rouge community with new entertainment offerings and eateries that will be made possible by this move,” Downey added.

Bringing the casino inland will place the slot machines and table games much closer to where patrons park. Currently, the walk is about 1,000 feet from the Atrium via enclosed walkways to the riverboat on the Mississippi River.

Hotel Reopening

Another major component of the $35 million investment is renovating and reopening approximately 90 rooms of the hotel’s 288-room facility. The Belle of Baton Rouge hotel has been closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hotel reopening and new Atrium amenities will bring back around 200 jobs, CQ told the state. The Belle’s current employment stands at around 150 positions.

Downey said the renovations will make the Belle “a very boutiquey, very fun” destination. Construction is expected to begin next April, with a planned May 2024 opening.