DiamondJacks’ owners now have more time to develop a plan for the reopening of the casino property in Bossier City. Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) had until February 9 to resume gaming operations at the original property after voters in St. Tammany Parish rejected a referendum that would have allowed the company to move its license to Slidell.
DiamondJacks Future Remains Uncertain
Ronnie Johns, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB), confirmed Wednesday that the board had granted P2E a short extension. This will allow the Los Angeles-based company time to prepare a detailed plan for reopening before the full board meeting on February 17.
In an interview with local media outlet KTAL/KMSS, Johns explained, “In all fairness to DiamondJacks, reopening with the COVID, particularly COVID issues, the lack of labor resources, and also the difficulty in supply availability, we’re going to give them an extension and allow them to appear at the February 17 board meeting.”
He added as the state’s workforce continues to have difficulty finding employees, “The entire industry statewide is understaffed. There are job openings at practically every casino around the state.”
DiamondJacks was shut down in May 2020 when the casino announced that it would not reopen until pandemic restrictions were lifted. The casino fired 349 workers and held a liquidation auction in October. With a change in Louisiana casino laws, the plan was to move the casino to a land-based property in Slidell. Voters there, however, rejected the idea last December.
P2E Still Weighing Its Options
P2E can choose to surrender the license, one of 15 available for riverboats in the state, but Johns stated that there has not been any discussion about it. Johns claims that P2E applied in December for its sports betting license. “I took that as a good sign that they have every intention of using the license,” he explained.
Johns is not happy with the riverboat license being unused any longer but wants to give DiamondJacks an opportunity to create a plan that will work for both them and the community.
Louisiana’s 2018 state law allows riverboat casinos to move out of the water, provided they stay within 1,200 feet of their berths and provide economic development to the community. Johns expects that DiamondJacks will follow this example.
The LGCB executive points out that the gaming industry is much more than just slot machines and table games. The ability of riverboat casinos to move ashore has made the industry more dynamic.
“It’s the future of gaming in Louisiana,” he asserted. “The days of the old riverboats are gone. They can build nicer facilities, amenities, restaurants, spas, entertainment venues. Those are playing a big part in the income stream and the industry, not just in Louisiana. It’s nationwide. It’s family amenities that are bringing people in.”