The Louisiana gambling regulator has given Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E), owner of DiamondJacks riverboat casino in Bossier City 60 days to either sell the site or have its state gaming license revoked. The casino has been closed since March 2020, citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chair Ronnie Johns stated he found it “extremely disturbing” that the situation has been going on for two years now. “We stand here today and nothing has been done. I don’t think a blade of grass has been changed at the property”.
Should the license be taken away from the company, a 5-year process would start for the senate to complete the necessary bids and background checks. Louisiana grants 15 licenses that allow gambling in specific parishes that have agreed. Then the holder of the new license would also need additional time to complete construction of facilities and open its doors. If the license is sold to another company, then the entire process could be completed in about two years.
Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chair Ronnie Johns
Virginia-based Peninsula Pacific Entertainment had already been granted an extension from the state Gaming Control Board after St. Tammany Parish voters rejected a proposal to move the casino license to Slidell. P2E had pitched a $350 million resort development on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, but opposition from law enforcement leaders led to the proposal’s defeat in a December election.
The law that created the referendum required P2E to reopen DiamondJacks in Bossier City 60 days after the election, but the company asked regulators for more time to work on those plans back in January. The extension gave the riverboat casino until Thursday to submit its strategy.
As reported by Bossier Now, P2E’s lawyer, Peter Connick of Metairie, appeared before the gaming board Thursday and assured negotiations were ongoing with Foundation Gaming Group to sell DiamondJacks. However, more time would be needed to have it finalized.
Foundation owns gambling properties in Mississippi such as Fitz Casino and Hotel in Tunica, and WaterView Casino and Hotel in Vicksburg.
Robert Smith, who is currently taking care of the abandoned property, also said the vessel on which the casino sits is out of compliance and its certification has lapsed. Air conditioning and plumbing need repairs before an inspector can even be brought on board. Most of the equipment and furnishing in the hotel and restaurant have been sold and would need to be replaced.
“The facility has gotten to where it’s not marketable”, Commissioner Hary Avant of Shreveport said, according to The Advocate.
The gaming board still has the authority to reject P2E’s plans to transfer its license at the end of the 60-day period, and Johns stated regulators would not consider another extension once that period ends.
Johns also said he was reluctant to seize the DiamondJacks’ license because it would mean the Gaming Control Board would no longer have jurisdiction over the property, leaving Bossier City to deal with any issues that P2E fails to address.