DiamondJacks Casino Could Reopen After Failed St. Tammany Parish Election
Posted on: December 14, 2021, 05:13h.
Last updated on: December 14, 2021, 12:22h.
DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City, La., might be making a comeback. The casino’s owner, Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E), was forced to temporarily shutter its Louisiana casino in March 2020 on state orders to combat the escalating COVID-19 pandemic.
Just two months later, P2E said it would not reopen the commercial riverboat. The company opted to relocate its Louisiana gaming license to a more attractive market.
Those efforts, however, were deemed unsuccessful during the December 11 local election in St. Tammany Parish. P2E had proposed building a $325 million gaming and leisure destination called Camellia Bay Resort in Slidell on Lake Pontchartrain.
Gambling is prohibited in St. Tammany, which meant parish support by way of a local referendum was required to allow P2E to proceed with Camellia Bay. But parish voters rejected the casino during the delayed election held this past weekend.
P2E claimed casinos on the Mississippi Gulf Coast were responsible for the many “Vote CasiNO” signs that sprang up across the parish in the days before the special election.
P2E is a Los Angeles-headquartered gaming and hospitality firm.
Gaming Board Requires Action
St. Tammany voters rejecting Peninsula Pacific’s development efforts in the parish means gaming must soon resume at DiamondJacks. If it doesn’t, P2E is at risk of forfeiting its state-issued gaming permit.
The Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) in September passed a resolution that would have allowed P2E to move its Bossier City gaming license to Slidell, should St. Tammany voters welcome the development. But since locals rejected the motion, the LGCB ordinance compels that gaming recommences aboard the DiamondJacks riverboat gaming vessel — formally known as the Mary Margaret — “within 60 days of the election.”
That means DiamondJacks, or some other named casino on the Mary Margaret, must restart gaming operations on or before Feb. 9, 2022.
LGCB Chair Ronnie Johns says P2E cannot sell its gaming license. Currently, the company has only two legal options: reopen DiamondJacks or a new casino on the Mary Margaret, or surrender the gaming license.
“I anticipate they will reopen DiamondJacks. The board may give them a little more time than the 60 days to get back up and running,” Johns explained.
Reopening DiamondJacks won’t be an easy task. P2E in October of 2020 held a fire sale of the resort’s assets, including kitchen and restaurant equipment, furnishings from the 560 hotel guestrooms, lighting fixtures, linens, ice machines, and china.
DiamondJacks in Rough Times
DiamondJacks Casino opened as Isle of Capri Bossier City in 1994. Developed and opened by Isle of Capris Casinos Inc., the Bossier City riverboat was sold in 2006 to a local entity called Legends Gaming, which renamed it DiamondJacks.
Legends was unsuccessful as a gaming operator, and DiamondJacks racked up more than half of a billion dollars in debt. The company entered bankruptcy in 2012, and various creditors took control of the casino that year.
P2E acquired DiamondJacks in 2016. But the rundown riverboat failed to compete with higher-end properties in Bossier. Isle of Capris Casinos Inc. was sold to Eldorado Resorts — the present-day Caesars Entertainment — in 2017 for $1.7 billion.