Louisiana gambling regulators approved on Wednesday a resolution to allow Peninsula Pacific Entertainment LLC (P2E) to move a casino license from Bossier City to Slidell.
Richmond-based P2E has thus secured an essential step in order to eventually close the Diamond Jacks casino in Bossier City to then move operations to Slidell. The proposed $329 million casino resort, to be named Camellia Bay, will count with a 4-star hotel to be located just off Interstate 10’s Exit 261.
The development has been the subject of much controversy and several lawsuits, reports KPVI. The next step is for the State Bond Commission to decide on Sept. 16 whether to allow a referendum for St. Tammany residents to vote on the project on November 13.
However, the election could be pushed back to December 11, as Gov. John Bel Edwards is considering a request by Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s for a postponement to allow officials time to react to the damage caused by Hurricane Ida.
Vocal opposition to the casino is coming from churches in the Slidell area, as well as from certain public officials, including Slidell’s mayor and St. Tammany’s Parish Sheriff Randy Smith. Meanwhile, supporters argue that the casino, which would be opened in November 2023, could employ thousands of workers and report an estimated $33.3 million yearly in gaming taxes.
The Louisiana Gaming Control Board’s approved resolution allows P2E to move the license should a majority of the parish’s participating voters agree. Were voters to refuse to allow a casino, Peninsula Pacific would have 60 days to reopen its Bossier property.
If the referendum passes, the company said it will sell the buildings and property in Bossier City, according to Brent Stevens, P2E’s president. If a buyer isn’t secured, the likely outcome would see the company conveying the property to Bossier, probably demolishing the venue for use as a city park.
The proposed Slidell development is set to include a 250-room hotel, which would cover about 50 acres, and construction is expected to bring nearly 1,700 jobs, and 1,900 during operation, according to P2E.
St. Tammany Parish residents would have to vote to undo a 1996 referendum that rejects casino and video poker for Camellia Bay Casino and Resort to become a reality. Peninsula Pacific Entertainment expects public sentiment towards gaming to have changed throughout these years: last November, St. Tammany voted 67% in favor of sports betting.
Asking the public for input in the casino’s name, as well as features such as restaurants and the venue’s style, is part of an ongoing strategy to involve the residents with the project. Should this ultimately lead to approval in the referendum, a groundbreaking could come as early as December.