The Louisiana Gaming Control Board on Wednesday passed a resolution to allow Richmond, VA and Los Angeles-based developer Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) to transfer its existing Bossier City casino license to a proposed gambling establishment in St. Tammany Parish.
Earlier this year, Louisiana lawmakers passed a measure authorizing P2E to build a hotel and casino complex just outside the city of Slidell, should parish voters approve the mega-project at a local referendum this fall.
The state’s upcoming election was originally scheduled to take place on November 13, but Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday postponed it to December 11 in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
The Wednesday regulatory approval cleared a critical hurdle in the extended legal procedures that are intended to eventually lead to the official closure of P2E’s existing riverboat casino in Bossier City and the opening of a much larger-scale property on 50 acres of land at Interstate 10’s Exit 261 along Lake Pontchartrain, just outside Slidell.
P2E purchased the DiamondJacks riverboat in the Bossier area in the summer of 2016. The company closed the facility permanently in May 2020 due to its continued underperformance that was further enhanced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The next step in the legal process of authorizing the relocation of P2E’s existing license and the construction of its proposed Slidell venue is for the Louisiana State Bond Commission to decide on September 16 whether to call a referendum that would put the casino question before St. Tammany residents on the December 11 ballot.
Voters in the parish will be asked whether a 1996 ban on gambling expansion in the area should be annulled. The removal of that ban would basically mean P2E could move forward with its plan.
Last month, the company announced the name of its planned complex and unveiled a host of other important details about it. If approved, the property will operate as Camellia Bay Resort, a name proposed by a parish resident that pays homage to Slidell’s nickname, the Camellia City.
P2E plans to spend $325 million on building the resort, up from its originally announced budget of $250 million. The complex will feature nearly 80,000 square feet of gaming space with 1,250 slot machines, table games, a poker room, and a sportsbook, a rich selection of dining outlets and bars, a 4-star hotel, three live music venues, 20,000 square feet of meeting space, and a number of attractions, including a lazy river.
Although the casino complex promises to employ more than 1,000 people and to annually contribute an estimated $33.3 million in gaming taxes to the state, including about $9 million to local governments, the project has garnered vocal opposition.
Opponents include local religious groups, some businesses in the area and even Slidell’s mayor, police chief, and the City Council. Most of the concerns raised against the future resort are about increased crime and the social ills caused by gambling.
Source: Gambling regulators approve moving casino to Slidell, The Advocate, September 8, 2021