Posted on: February 18, 2022, 08:20h.
Last updated on: February 18, 2022, 10:14h.
DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana, won’t reopen, officials representing Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) told state gaming regulators this week.
P2E last year sought to relocate its Bossier City casino license to Slidell, north of New Orleans. But that required local voters in St. Tammany Parish to lift an ordinance prohibiting commercial gambling from operating within their county.
In December, St. Tammany voters rejected the proposed $325 million P2E casino project, called Camellia Bay Resort. With the relocation undertaking blocked, Louisiana law requires that P2E either reopen DiamondJacks, sell the gaming license, or have it forfeited.
P2E, like every other Louisiana casino license holder, was forced to shutter its gaming operations in March of 2020 on state COVID-19 orders. But P2E, unlike every other casino, opted not to reopen its venue once the state allowed business to resume.
Peninsula Pacific instead said it would seek a more attractive operating market to relocate its gaming privileges.
Attorneys Peter Connick and Robert Smith attended a Louisiana Gaming Control Board hearing this week on P2E’s behalf. There they informed the state that DiamondJacks will remain closed. Peninsula Pacific executives opted not to attend the meeting regarding their casino license, which remains in limbo, causing some frustration among board members.
We stand here today and nothing has been done. I don’t think a blade of grass has been changed at the [DiamondJacks] property,” LGCB Chair Ronnie Johns said of P2E doing little since its Slidell dreams were squashed.
Companies holding casino licenses in Louisiana must be actively using them to conduct commercial gaming operations. The LGCB signed off on a suspension of business to allow P2E to consider a new operating market.
Following the Slidell rejection of Camellia Bay, the 60-day clock started ticking on P2E’s next plan for the license.
Connick and Smith told gaming regulators that P2E no longer sees DiamondJacks as a viable business. The 60-day clock has since expired, but gaming regulators have afforded P2E additional time to figure out its plans.
The LGCB would greatly prefer P2E to find a buyer to reopen DiamondJacks. If the company’s license is surrendered, it would take several years for the state to field offers from interested gaming companies, due to time-consuming background checks on companies and key officials involved.
The Bossier City vessel in which DiamondJacks formerly called home has sat vacant for nearly two years. State officials say the structure is quickly deteriorating and is beginning to approach condemnation.
Smith and Connick agreed that the facility is in need of major repairs. The attorneys said the company recognizes that the casino’s HVAC and plumbing systems would not currently pass inspection.
Gaming Control Board member Harry Avant argued that the former casino isn’t sellable in its current state. Reports have surfaced that P2E has tried to sell the riverboat and Louisiana gaming license, but no suitors have emerged.
Local police say DiamondJacks is becoming an increasing concern in the region. Law enforcement responded to 122 calls to the vacant property in 2021 alone.