In spring of 2018, Louisiana passed a law to allow riverboat casinos to operate on dry land. As relayed in a recent post on www.theadvocate.com, the first one is ready to make the move. While this has been more than 18 months in the making, the state’s Gaming Control Board has approved the first application. The actual riverboat will be mothballed. The slots and table games will find their new digs on dry land.
The eight-member Board approved the plans submitted by Eldorado Resorts out of Reno, Nevada. The total cost of the project is $112.7 million. The new casino will be located 10 miles west of the City of Lake Charles.
The casino floor will be in excess of 72,000 square feet of gaming space. This is three times larger than the gaming space on the actual riverboat. Slot machines will increase from 1,154 to 1,271. There will be a total of 43 gaming tables up from 36. The casino will offer a VIP Lounge. There will also be dining and entertainment with views of Charles Lake.
Jeffery Bardin is the principal lawyer for Eldorado. He mentioned that the project got joint support from the Gaming Board, State Police and Attorney General’s office. He mentioned that, “Everyone was trying to figure out the way to go.”
Gathering information for state needs, construction plans and general oversight was a labor-intensive process. Proper documentation, permits and other legal issues all had to be ironed out. The Eldorado application was the first stab at determining the entire process. This should hopefully pave the way for the other 14 riverboats looking to make the move to dry land.
State Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles described the Riverboat Casinos situation as “a game changer.” He was the chief sponsor of Act 469 which gave the riverboats permission to move onto dry land. The only stipulation is that casino properties need to be within 1,200 feet of a waterway.
The first riverboat casinos were approved more than 25 years ago. There was a long battle to move in this direction with stiff rules put into place. Over the years, the requirement to actually sail the boats was dropped. The ensuing moored riverboats also grew in size. The Golden Nugget Casino pushed the limits even further to create the appearance of a resort. The property even included a golf course.
Construction on the new casino in Louisiana is expected to begin by the end of January. The project will employ about 300 construction workers. The company is targeting May of 2021 for completion. When up and running, there will be more than 800 jobs which is up from 735.