DiamondJacks Casino Decision Time Nearing, Louisiana Gaming License at Stake

Posted on: January 20, 2022, 12:06h. 

Last updated on: January 20, 2022, 03:10h.

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) met today at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge to discuss a smattering of topics. One was the uncertainty regarding the future of the shuttered DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City.

Louisiana casino DiamondJacks Peninsula Pacific P2E
DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City, La., has sat closed since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Louisiana gaming officials say the owner of the property must reopen the casino resort or risk forfeiting its gaming license. (Image: KSLA)

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) was faced with a February 9 deadline to reopen DiamondJacks or risk losing its commercial gaming license in Louisiana. P2E, a California-based gaming and hospitality firm that additionally holds gaming privileges in Iowa, Virginia, and New York, last year sought to relocate its Bossier City casino license to Slidell.

However, residents in St. Tammany Parish — home of Slidell — last month voted against P2E’s proposed $325 million development called Camellia Bay Resort. With the parish rejecting the project, P2E must reopen DiamondJacks or risk forfeiting its Louisiana gaming concession.

During the LGCB meeting today, the issue was only briefly addressed. But the state board agreed to postpone the February 9 decision deadline for DiamondJacks by a little more than two weeks to Friday, February 25.

Action Required

Peninsula Pacific has been mum on whether the company will attempt to reopen DiamondJacks. It won’t be an easy undertaking, as the casino sold off many of its interior furnishings from its casino and resort operations, including the property’s 560-room hotel, prior to its relocation efforts.

Louisiana law prohibits gaming licenses from being held by companies that are not running a casino. It’s the hope of state regulators, including LGCB Chair Ronnie Johns, that DiamondJacks reopens.

Johns said recently that the board is willing to work with P2E and provide an ample time line for the company to invest in updating and reopening the Bossier City resort.

I don’t want them to lose the license. We want to keep that license in commerce,” Johns told The Advocate this week.

Local officials say action is needed promptly. Lisa Johnson, president and CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, says the shuttered DiamondJacks Casino has quickly become an eyesore. The riverboat is located just south of I-20, the casino’s towering DiamondJacks closed sign standing tall above the interstate.

Mobile Sports Betting Update

The LGCB revealed during its meeting today that online sportsbook operations remain on hold. In-person casino sportsbooks went operational across the state beginning in November.

Johns said he’s waiting on final approval from law enforcement before the first mobile sportsbook can debut. The LGCB is prepared to authorize 20 mobile sportsbook permits.

Johns expects mobile wagering to begin in time for Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13. But the Louisiana gaming official said such operations could commence before the end of the month.

Louisiana has 11 brick-and-mortar sportsbooks taking action. The oddsmakers took $39.5 million in bets last month, and kept nearly $4.4 million of the wagers.

The sports betting handle is expected to increase greatly once mobile operations begin. In states where both retail and online sportsbooks operate, the vast majority of the betting — around 80 percent or higher — has been facilitated through online books.