The Cordish Companies earlier this month tentatively reached an agreement with Foundation Gaming to acquire the long-shuttered Louisiana riverboat that was called Diamond Jacks until it closed in March 2020.
The Baltimore-based gaming and hospitality firm, which operates Live!-branded casinos in Maryland and Pennsylvania, presented its Diamond Jacks redevelopment plans to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB) during the agency’s meeting yesterday.
Cordish officials told state regulators that, with the state’s blessing, the company would spend more than $250 million to transform the dilapidated riverboat and hotel into a premier casino resort and entertainment destination. The investment would result in an entirely new land-based casino and a full renovation of the current hotel. The existing riverboat would be removed from the Red River.
Cordish reps told the gaming regulators that the resort would be called Live! Casino & Hotel Louisiana. That aligns with the firm’s other casino resorts, including Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland and Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia. Cordish additionally operates Live! Casino Pittsburgh, a boutique casino that doesn’t have a hotel.
Cordish Managing Partner Joe Weinberg said Live! Louisiana would include 47,000 square feet of gaming space with more than 1,000 slot machines and electronic table game positions, plus 30 traditional live dealer tables and a sportsbook.
The hotel renovation would result in 400 updated guestrooms, 25,000 square feet of customizable multi-purpose events space, and numerous dining and drinking options. A PBR Cowboy Bar is also in the early plans.
Live! Casino & Hotel Louisiana will bring a first-class gaming, dining, entertainment, and hospitality experience to the region, create significant new jobs, and generate millions of dollars in economic benefits for the community,” said Weinberg stated.
LGCB Chair Ronnie Johns expressed his support for the Cordish plan.
“The reputation of The Cordish Companies throughout the country to own and operate first-class casinos, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment destinations is exemplary,” Johns said during the Monday meeting.
Foundation Gaming agreed to buy Diamond Jacks in May 2022 from Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) for an undisclosed sum. The LGCB approved the sale in December after Foundation presented the state with a $200 million renovation that also included a new land-based casino.
Riverboats Move Inland
Louisiana lawmakers in 2018 amended the state’s 27-year-old gaming law to allow riverboats to move inland, so long as they remain within 1,200 feet of their original barges. The 2018 regulatory change also allowed casinos to expand beyond the previous cap of riverboats being limited to 30,000 square feet of gaming space.
The LGCB signed off on Cordish’s plan for Diamond Jacks but the gaming firm must still undergo a suitability review. That will be conducted by the Louisiana State Police, with the law enforcement agency set to present its background findings to the LGCB in the coming months.
Should Cordish be found suitable to possess a state gaming license in Louisiana, the LGCB would be expected to formally approve of the company’s acquisition of the gaming concession and Diamond Jacks property from Foundation.
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