While around the state of Louisiana casinos are reopening on Monday, May 18, 2020, under strict new guidelines and regulations established by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, DiamondJacks Casino & Hotel in Bossier City announced Friday that it would be closing its doors for good “due to business circumstances caused by the unexpected impact of the coronavirus.”
The property that is owned and operated by Los Angeles-based holding company, Peninsula Pacific, opened for business on May 20, 1994, and its closing comes just days ahead of what would be its 26th anniversary.
According to ABC-affiliated television station KTBS 3, all of the casino’s employees have been notified and are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits. Their final paycheck will be issued on May 22 and will reportedly include unused paid time off.
Finance Vice President for DiamondJacks, Diana Thornton, said in the Friday news release…
“In light of the sudden, unforeseeable market conditions that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, the difficult decision has been made to close the casino. We have worked diligently to be a valued member of the Shreveport-Bossier City business community. We are saddened for the loss of a longtime business here in Louisiana.”
Chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, Ronnie Jones, reportedly told the news agency that when the current health crisis has passed the board will determine what affects the casino’s closing will have on gaming in the state, as well as the status of Peninsula Pacific’s license, which is one of Louisiana‘s 15-max riverboat licenses.
According to KTBS, Jones said that the board will have to “engage the ownership in conversation as to what their plans are. … They’ll have to share that with the board.. The board would be very concerned about a property just shutting its doors with not having a plan to move forward.”
In addition to contacting employees, vendors and other key stakeholders, Diamondbacks is working on a closure plan that includes deciding what to do with the Bossier City property’s physical assets. And while the property will be maintained throughout the closure, there are reportedly no plans for a change in ownership or for additional investments to continue operating, with Thornton saying “continuing to operate is not viable from a business standpoint.”
Last-minute changes to executive order:
Meanwhile, just hours before Phase 1 of the state’s planned coronavirus reopening was officially set in motion, Governor John Bel Edwards announced changes to his executive order that would affect casinos and other businesses – after receiving backlash from a gaming task force regarding the limitations.
The changes include an increase in the percentage of gaming positions (slot machines and table games) that would be allowed to operate, going from the original cap of 25 percent to 50 percent. However, that does not change the original 25 percent occupancy limits.
Every guest of any of the state’s 20 commercial casinos will be required to have their temperature taken, while casino staff members will also be required to offer guests a mask and to thoroughly and regularly clean every slot machine and table game throughout the day, and more.
L’Auberge Lake Charles:
Among the casinos in Louisiana opening today, L’Auberge Casino and Resort in Lake Charles, owned by Gaming and Leisure Properties and operated by Penn National Gaming reopened at approximately 6am on Monday, May 18.
In a news release, spokesperson for the casino, Sarah Camp, reportedly said…
“While the amenities our customers have come to know and love may be somewhat limited for the time being, the ability to safely welcome back our team members and guests remains our top priority.”
The casino has established a laundry-list of rules for guests and employees in order to meet Phase 1 reopening protocols and precautions. In addition to the gaming floor capacity and half of the gaming positions being disabled, some of the other new rules include the continued suspension of live music, entertainment, and banquet services; limited restaurant offerings; and the buffet, spa and poker room will remain closed.
The 26 story, 995 room hotel is also expected to open with limited capacity while the resort’s pools, Lazy River, and Contraband Bayou Golf Club will open with heightened sanitation procedures and social distancing guidelines.
Some of the state’s other casino openings include:
- Margaritaville Resort Casino Bossier City
- Golden Nugget Casino Lake Charles
- Harrah’s Louisiana Downs
- Isle of Capri Casino Lake Charles opens today at noon
- Horseshoe Bossier City
- Boomtown New Orleans
- Eldorado Shreveport, Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge and Isle of Capri Casino Lake Charles reopen today at noon
- Coushatta Casino Resort is reopening on Wednesday, May 20 at 12pm, while Boomtown Casino Bossier City, will reopen at 9am Wednesday.
Also reopening today at noon, the Gaming and Leisure Properties owned and Eldorado Resorts operated Belle of Baton Rouge will not open any of its tables and the facility’s hours will be limited to 10am to 2am. And while not required, the hotel will remain closed and food services will also be limited.