Louisiana Casino License Holder Targeting $250M Resort Near New Orleans

Posted on: February 3, 2021, 09:39h. 

Last updated on: February 3, 2021, 12:18h.

A company that owns a casino license in Bossier, City, La., wants to relocate to outside of New Orleans in Slidell.

Louisiana casino New Orleans Slidell
Brent Stevens, seen here in 2018, wants to take his Louisiana casino license from Bossier City to Slidell. The move has plenty of hurdles to overcome. (Image: AN17)

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, stylized P2E, revealed plans on Monday to construct a $250 million casino resort in St. Tammany Parish. The targeted site is located north of New Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain. The 50-acre plot of land is adjacent to The Blind Tiger restaurant.

[The undeveloped acreage] is the best single casino development site that I’ve ever seen,” P2E CEO Brent Stevens told The New Orleans Advocate this week.

Steven said the location’s convenience to Interstate 10 and proximity to Lake Pontchartrain and the Lakeshore Marina make it attractive. The casino blueprint calls for a 250-room hotel. Other likely amenities, such as restaurants, retail shopping, a spa, and meeting facilities were not disclosed.

P2E is based in Los Angeles. It was founded in 1999 as a holding company for Peninsula Gaming, a company led by Stevens until its sale to Boyd Gaming in 2012 for $1.45 billion. Peninsula’s current gaming portfolio includes the del Lago Casino in upstate New York and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City in Iowa.

Not Easy Outside Big Easy

Peninsula Pacific acquired Bossier City’s DiamondJacks Casino & Hotel in June of 2016. Stevens at the time said he was “extremely enthusiastic” to purchase the riverboat.

Less than four years later, P2E announced the permanent closure of DiamondJacks in May of 2020, COVID-19 cited for its fate. P2E hinted of its goals to take its casino permit, one of 15 in the state, to a more economically attractive area.

Rumors floated that locale would likely be in the southern portion of the state. Stevens confirmed the rumblings this week that an area closer to the Big Easy is where he’s most eager to build a new gaming property.

Relocating a Louisiana casino license is a complex endeavor. And in St. Tammany Parish, it’s one that could take years. State lawmakers would first need to pass legislation to put the issue before parish voters. If local residents back allowing a casino in their home region, the state Gaming Control Board would then need to sign off on the license move and associated development.

In 1996, St. Tammany Parish voters rejected casino gambling, with 62 percent of the ballots cast against commercial gambling. But 25 years later, some believe locals are ready to welcome a casino resort.

“Times change, no matter what the issue is,” said St. Tammany Parish Council Chair Mike Lorino. “Maybe years ago, this project would have had an issue.”

Lorino is one of three local officials who has already expressed his support to allow voters to decide. The others are Parish President Mike Cooper and Slidell Mayor Greg Cromer.

Sports Betting Changing Gambling Attitudes

The Supreme Court’s rejection of the longstanding federal ban on sports betting in 2018 has led to more than 20 states legalizing gambling activity. It’s also seemingly easing opposition to gambling in some areas.

The 1996 casino referendum in St. Tammany Parish was heavily opposed by community faith leaders. But last November, parish voters gave a much different position on a gaming issue.

Voters in all 64 Louisiana parishes were asked to weigh in on sports betting. In St. Tammany, 67 percent of the vote supported allowing people to gamble on sports.