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Two Louisiana Riverboat Casinos Look to Move Ashore

At least two Louisiana casinos now operating in riverboats in the southern part of the state could reopen as land-based gambling halls.

The unoccupied Isle of Capri riverboat casino rests against a bridge in Lake Charles, La., after coming unmoored during a 2020 hurricane. The casino will reopen next year on land instead of water. (Image: The Advocate)

In Lake Charles, the Isle of Capri riverboat casino, dislodged during a hurricane in 2020, will reopen next year as a land-based property, Lt. Robert Fontenot of the Louisiana State Police told Casino.org. Lake Charles is in the southwestern part of the state, near the Texas border. The Isle of Capri is owned by Nevada-based Caesars Entertainment.

In the New Orleans area, the Kenner City Council this month approved a 25-year lease for the Treasure Chest riverboat casino. The lease gives the owner, Nevada-based Boyd Gaming, the right to locate the casino on land instead of water, according to nola.com. The Treasure Chest is on Lake Pontchartrain, northwest of downtown New Orleans.

Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn said allowing the Treasure Chest to move ashore will bring more people to the casino and boost tax revenue for the city, nola.com reported.

”That helps capital projects in the city,” he said. “That helps the police.”

Louisiana is home to 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos.

When riverboat casinos were first authorized in the early 1990s, the boats were required to journey into open water away from the port. That was changed in 2001 to permit the riverboats to remain docked. In 2018, the law was adjusted to allow riverboats to be scrapped in favor of land-based operations. 

From the beginning, the Harrah’s casino in downtown New Orleans was allowed to be land-based.

Deadly Storm

The Gulf Coast on Monday continued to recover from Tropical Storm Claudette. The storm pelted Louisiana and Mississippi this weekend before veering eastward into other Southern states.

At least 13 people were killed in the storm. This includes eight children from an Alabama home for neglected and abused youths. The children were in a van involved in a crash that authorities believe was caused by the storm.

Before sweeping into Alabama and other states, Claudette left as much as 12 inches of rain along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, causing flash floods and displacing many residents from their homes.

Casinos ‘Up and Running’

Unlike last year’s record storm season along the Gulf Coast, Claudette did not create major issues for the casino industry in Louisiana and Mississippi, officials said.

On Monday, Fontenot said the Louisiana casinos were open.

No reports of damage to our gaming properties,” he told Casino.org. 

Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, told Casino.org on Monday the storm brought a lot of rain, but the casinos “are up and running.”

Mississippi has 26 commercial casinos. Of those,12 are on the Gulf Coast. Eight are in the Biloxi coastal area.

A record 30 named storms developed during last year’s Atlantic hurricane season. Twelve made landfall in the US. Five hit Louisiana. In addition to two deadly hurricanes last year in the Lake Charles area, fast-moving Hurricane Zeta ripped through New Orleans in October, swamping casinos east of there in Mississippi.

This year’s hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. It also is expected to be active.

Larry Henry

Gaming Regulation, Crime, Politics — Larry Henry is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who spent more than 16 years in Nevada, including serving as legislative reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal and as political editor at the Las Vegas Sun. He's also written about popular culture for the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. As a broadcast journalist, he worked as managing editor at KFSM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Arkansas, where he now lives and where casino growth is a hot topic. A Marine Corps veteran and LSU graduate, he is also an avid movie fan, especially of classic film noir from the 1940s and ’50s.

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Larry Henry