In the latest installment of “As DiamondJacks Turns,” the casino received a 60-day extension on taking action with its license.
The Louisiana Gaming Control Board granted the extension unanimously but grudgingly, because as Chair Ronnie Johns said, “This is something that has gone on two years.”
Meting out a decision
At a Feb. 17 meeting of the Board just ahead of the day’s expected rain, one of the matters in question concerned the future of Bossier City’s dormant DiamondJacks Casino.
The board had to decide whether to:
- Grant a 60-day license extension to Louisiana Riverboat Gaming Partnership DBA DiamondJacks
- Or approve the surrender of DiamondJacks’ license, set to expire on Dec. 29, 2024.
Speaking on behalf of DiamondJacks and its owner Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) was attorney Peter Connick. As well as the casino’s administrative manager, Robert Smith.
While assuring Collins and Smith that his irritation wasn’t directed at them, several times Johns expressed his dismay at the lack of anyone from the corporate level at the meeting.
Board member Julie Berry later echoed his disappointment, calling this failure to appear “extremely disturbing.”
At the Jan. 17 LGCB meeting, the Board had granted P2E an extension with the understanding the company would present concrete plans to reopen in February. The casino has remained closed since March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic lockdown.
And just this past December, an attempt to move the license to Slidell via referendum failed. On seeing that no such plans would be forthcoming, Johns commented:
“We stand here today and nothing has been done. And it’s a very serious issue. There are only 15 licenses in the state.”
He noted that the Board had “bent over backward to work with P2E” and now found itself “between a rock and hard place.” He added:
“We could actually take the license from you today.”
Could DiamondJacks change hands?
Connick brought up that P2E is currently negotiating the sale of an ownership interest to Foundation Gaming, a casino operator with Bossier experience. “Negotiations have been occurring rapidly and in good faith,” and have resulted in a Letter of Intent (LOI), he assured the Board, of which a quorum was present.
Should that sale fall through, P2E will probably surrender the license, according to Connick.
In dog years, that’s almost 30!
The discussion turned to the length of time it might take for any other action to get the property operational again.
According to Lisha Landry, Assistant Attorney General, the surrendered license would become available through an application process. State Police would need to investigate all applicants.
The timeline for granting the license to a new owner could eat up another two years. And in the end, getting another property operational could take at least four to five years, Landry said.
Ultimately, Johns expressed that it was in the better interests of Bossier to get something up and running. To provide employment and pay state and local taxes.
This would also allow the Board to retain jurisdiction over the current physical property. And which has proved problematic of late regarding its deteriorating condition and security.
Harry Avant, another Board member, pointed out that “the facility has gotten to where it’s not marketable.” P2E had arranged for the compliance inspector not to inspect the property and that was done without Board approval, Johns noted.
The Board agreed to the extension, which board member Berry called “a reluctant gift.” Finally, Johns asked to send this message via Connick and Smith to the corporate sector of P2E:
“After 60 days, that’s it.”
What will happen in the next 60 days? Will Foundation Gaming purchase the license?
And will the transfer of ownership not go through and the license surrendered? Will someone get amnesia?