After nearly a year ago announcing that it had received approval from the Louisiana Gaming and Control Board to move its Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge riverboat gaming operation to a to-be-constructed landside facility, on August 10, 2021, Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. (NASDAQ: GLPI) broke ground on an expansion project with a starting budget of $60 million.
Originally estimated at a spend of between $21 million and $25 million, GLPI’s investment has increased considerably.
Making the move possible is 2018 legislation that allows riverboat casinos in the Bayou State to move ashore near their original dockside locations. Prior to the new Act taking effect, casinos in most of Louisiana were limited to riverboats or barges. SB316 was signed by Governor John Bel Edwards on May 23, 2018, allowing the state’s floating casinos to move 1,200 feet onto land from their “designated berth space.”
GLPI expects to complete the multi-million dollar project early next year, bringing with it significant economic benefits for Downtown Baton Rouge, and according to Ronnie Johns, Chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, “is the right thing to do”
“It’ll benefit the state of Louisiana as far as increase revenue from the tax base. So, more employment. We’re excited. It’s a great day for Baton Rouge.”
Details of the changes that are now underway, include moving the casino from its current riverboat position into a larger adaptation of its atrium while the existing valet parking area will be transformed into indoor space, according to The Advocate.
The following plans for the new landside facility were detailed by GLPI in an earlier press release:
- Indoor and outdoor gaming including full service and amenities
- Shaquille O’Neal’s Big Chicken Restaurant which will combine the former LSU Tigers standout and four-time NBA champion’s love of fried chicken, BBQ and adult milkshakes, with indoor and outdoor dining overlooking the Mississippi River
- A sports bar/restaurant and entertainment venue with 250 seats, including a mezzanine overlooking the Mississippi River as well as an outdoor patio to watch sports and live music or to host a party
- A sports viewing area which will provide guests with a comfortable place to have a drink and watch the games
- Flexible meeting space for 200-plus guests, with pre-function and food serving areas for private events or VIPs
Moreover, there is reportedly a possibility of either the sports bar or viewing area becoming a sportsbook, after the Louisiana Legislature overwhelmingly approved a framework for legal sports wagering. As early as fall 2021, residents could be able to place bets in person at casinos, racetracks and bars.
Isle of Capri Lake Charles:
Caesars Entertainment, Inc., formerly Eldorado Resorts’, Isle of Capri in Lake Charles was the first to make the move ashore, announcing plans in early January 2020, to shutter the riverboat and build a $112.7 million dollar facility nearby, with the project scheduled to be completed in May 2021.
However, all that changed when in August last year during Hurricane Laura, the riverboat casino broke from its mooring and wedged itself under the I-10 bridge. That led to Isle of Capri releasing a statement that the casino would remain closed until spring of 2022 as they continue to repair the damage sustained from the devastating hurricane and complete construction on the new land-based casino resort.
Sale and other changes:
Hollywood’s move to land is one of several major changes it is set to undergo, with the property in the midst of being acquired by Illinois-based Casino Queen Holding Company Inc. in a $28.2 million deal expected to close later in the year. There is also talk of a name change.
What’s more, the dock that is currently being used by the floating casino could be used by Viking Cruises for its Viking River Cruises division upon the September 2022 launch of its Mississippi River voyages, according to East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, who said, “This will draw more commerce into the area,” as reported by The Advocate.
Expected to be completed in the second half of 2022, the new land-based Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge will reportedly have approximately 500 employees, up from about 300 people who are currently employed by the casino. Additionally, the project is expected to bring some 160 or more construction jobs to the area.
According to Ronnie Johns, who was recently appointed chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, after resigning his seat in the Louisiana Senate where since 2012 he represented District 27, the groundbreaking on Tuesday was special for him. He sponsored the legislation in 2018 allowing riverboats to move ashore.
“This is about economic development,” Johns said. “This is not about a hall full of slot machines and table games.”
LA sports betting:
Regarding sports betting in the southeastern U.S. state, it will be available over the internet and via mobile apps in 55 of 64 parishes, where residents voted on the November 2020 ballot to allow the activity in their communities. In order to place a bet, an individual will have to be physically in one of those locations where sports betting is permitted, otherwise, the apps and websites won’t work. The Louisiana Lottery, casinos and racetracks are expected to own the sports wagering online sites and mobile apps that are now approved in the state.
Meanwhile, after in February submitting a licensing request, last month, Boston-based sports betting company DraftKings Inc. (Nasdaq: DKNG) made quick work of rolling out its daily fantasy sports contests in approved parishes. It took the operator just one day after receiving unanimous approval by the state’s 8-member gaming control board to launch in Louisiana, which became the 44th U.S. state to offer the DFS product.