Former Diamond Jacks Casino in Bossier City Nearing Sale to Cordish Companies

Posted on: August 27, 2023, 10:14h. 

Last updated on: August 27, 2023, 11:48h.

The former Diamond Jacks Casino Resort in Louisiana’s Bossier City is in the process of being sold to Baltimore-based Cordish Companies. A state official says he expects the transaction to close this fall.

Diamond Jacks Bossier City Louisiana
The former Diamond Jacks Casino Resort is being demolished to make way for a new, from-the-ground-up casino destination. The Cordish Companies hopes to break ground early next year on the $250 million project. (Image: Shreveport Times)

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, a Los Angeles-headquartered gaming operator, permanently shuttered the Louisiana riverboat amid the pandemic in March 2020. The company sought to relocate its state-issued commercial gaming license south to Slidell, but voters in St. Tammany Parish rejected the pitch through a local referendum.

P2E eventually found a buyer for its shuttered Diamond Jacks in May 2022 when Mississippi-based riverboat gaming firm Foundation Gaming agreed to purchase the distressed and deteriorating property for an undisclosed sum. Foundation, which owns and operates the Fitz Tunica and WaterView Casino in Vicksburg, had initially planned a $200 million overhaul of Diamond Jacks.

But in a surprising move, Foundation in April announced it would sell the Diamond Jacks property and state gaming license, the latter being the more valuable asset, to Cordish for an undisclosed price.

Demolition Coincides With Suitability Probe

Cordish operates casinos in Maryland and Pennsylvania and entertainment districts in numerous states. But Diamond Jacks will be the company’s first investment in Louisiana.

Before Foundation’s sale of Diamond Jacks to Cordish can be approved by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB), the Louisiana State Police must first conduct a suitability probe of the company and its key officials. That probe is ongoing.

In the meantime, Foundation is making progress on demolishing the former Diamond Jacks hotel. The former riverboat has also been scrapped, and its remaining pieces will soon “be cut up and trucked out,” said LGCB Chair Ronnie Johns.

There’s no doubt Cordish will be approved,” Johns told USA Today regarding the company’s suitability review. “The company’s record is impeccable.”

Johns says he expects to soon have the state police’s findings in hand, and the gaming regulatory is likely to formally approve of Cordish’s Diamond Jacks acquisition this fall. If all goes according to plan, Johns believes Cordish could begin work on its Bossier City casino resort early next year.

Cordish has suggested spending $250 million to build a new resort with a land-based casino and hotel. Louisiana gaming law allows riverboats to move inland as long as they remain within 1,200 feet of their original barges.

More Than Gaming

Cordish Gaming CEO Rob Norton told the LGCB earlier this year that the company plans to focus on entertainment — not just casino gaming — for its Bossier City play.

We plan to rebuild the event space and focus on bringing entertainment back to the market,” Norton said. “We intend for it to be a game-changing project for the Bossier City market.”

A game-changer is needed in Bossier City, as gross gaming revenue (GGR) has consistently declined in recent years.

In the state’s 2016 fiscal year, Bossier City/Shreveport riverboats generated GGR of approximately $638.8 million. In fiscal year 2019, that number was down to $626.4 million — a 2% decline.

And while pandemic pent-up demand has fueled gaming play in much of the country to record highs, Bossier City casino revenue in fiscal year 2021 totaled $583.7 million — nearly 9% below 2016.