The first of Louisiana’s 15 riverboat casinos planning to move inland was approved by the Gaming Control Board in December, according to a recent Associated Press report.
Eldorado Resorts plans to unveil its new $112.7 million casino space near the Isle of Capri riverboat in Westlake, a city in the western part of Louisiana near Lake Charles.
The new land-based casino will reportedly dwarf the riverboat it’s replacing by offering almost three times more space than the outgoing facility including around 120 more slots and seven more tables, the Advocate in Baton Rouge reported.
Additionally, Eldorado’s aim is that the land-based casino will be easier and more convenient for customers, something the state seems to have considered paramount after 25 years of riverboat gambling. About 18 months ago, Louisiana lawmakers decided the state-regulated casinos outside New Orleans didn’t have to stay on the water.
The approval of El Dorado’s planned casino near Lake Charles is the first of many possible moves by riverboats onto land. The Louisiana legislature legalized that option as a way to encourage the growth of Louisiana’s struggling casino market.
Over the last fiscal year, casino revenues in the state were down a whopping 10%, as increased competition from nearby states such as Oklahoma has increased.
In fact, as part of the passage of the recent update to Louisiana, riverboat casinos applying to move inland must disclose how the move will provide economic development to the space it plans to inhabit.
For Eldorado, the casino’s plans include the increased size of the space and more games alongside a VIP lounge and several onsite restaurants.
It appears the days of riverboat casinos in Louisiana might soon be a thing of the past. According to the AP report, if fact, 14 other riverboat casinos are planning similar moves in the near future.
Moreover, according to The Advocate, several of those casinos have already taken initial steps to file applications, with the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner the furthest along in the process.
As for the newly approved casino near Lake Charles, The Advocate reports the construction project should begin in less than two months with a planned end date targeted at May 2021.
Louisiana’s modernization of its once-vibrant casino culture might be moving slower than some proponents would like, but it is happening nonetheless.