After a two-year hiatus, the DiamondJacks Casino riverboat property may reincarnate as a land-based casino. A legal sales agreement between owner Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) and likely purchaser Foundation Gaming is currently in place, according to Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chair Ronnie Johns.
Foundation Gaming has its base in Mississippi and over 150 years of experience in the gaming and casino business. The company currently operates two casino properties:
- Fitz Casino & Hotel in Tunica along the Mississippi River
- Waterview Casino & Hotel in Vicksburg
Foundation has a history in Louisiana and even with DiamondJacks itself. It previously operated DiamondJacks Casino Resort from 2014 until its 2016 sale to Peninsula Pacific Entertainment.
Ronnie Johns has spoken very well of Foundation Gaming, calling them “a very reputable company” with a “history of taking distressed companies and renovating them into much nicer and much more viable properties.” He spoke of Foundation’s success in doing just that in its home state.
Louisiana has 13 riverboat casinos, so a move to land for DiamondJacks will set it apart from the rest and give it a much-needed breath of fresh air.
Plans for new DiamondJacks Casino has everyone excited
For starters, Johns mentioned how smoky “the old legacy riverboats” with their low ceilings have been. Bossier City does not currently have a smoking ban in place, but the new owners could:
“put in a very high-tech, very first-class ventilation system. It’s going to be a much safer environment for the customer. It’s gonna be just a much nicer experience, more spread out. It doesn’t mean that they’re gonna have a lot more table games and slot machines, they’re just gonna be spread out where it’ll be a great experience.”
The Board chair noted that Foundation plans to build a sportsbook on the property and called the seemingly impending sale a win-win deal.
“…not only for the state of Louisiana by putting that license back into commerce, but it’s gonna be a huge win for the city of Bossier of not having that closed property there, and just letting it sit there and get worse by the day, so we’re trying to move forward as quickly as we can.”
Johns expects more amenities and restaurants to spring up under Foundation’s lead, as well. Overall, Foundation feels they can grow the market, according to him.
Bossier City Mayor Tommy Chandler can hardly contain his excitement, it seems. “This is gonna be great for Bossier and Shreveport, and it’s going to bring a whole lot more people in it because people will just stop right off by I-20 right there.
East Bank is growing, Margaritaville on the other side is growing. The Boardwalk is fixing to grow up, but the East Bank is really getting big. So it’s bringing a lot of people in town.”
Land-based DiamondJacks grand opening expected in 2023
Johns expects the revamped casino property to open by the summer or fall of 2023.
First, though, a few hoops require jumping through. The state police and the attorney general’s office need time to conduct suitability and background investigations into Foundation Gaming and the proposed transaction between Foundation and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment.
Then, if all goes well, Foundation will likely present its plans to the board, who will vote on transferring the license. Johns is hoping the Board can vote at its June meeting, and if not then, at least soon.
If approved, the move to land will mean no more DiamondJacks riverboat, of course. That operation shut down in 2020 during the pandemic lockdown. That October, P2E laid off over 300 DiamondJacks employees and held a liquidation sale. Since then, the riverboat slid into disrepair and has experienced vandalism.
Having wanted to move the operation to land itself, P2E made a proposal to transfer to Slidell. That ended in a failed December 2021 referendum.
Ultimately, following a series of extensions granted by the board (and with Johns vocally none too happy about the situation), P2E reneged on presenting its renovation plans for the riverboat property. That’s where Foundation entered the picture.
The gaming license in question is one of 15 in the state. If for any reason, the DiamondJacks Casino sale falls through, the license will likely be surrendered. That could mean another four to five years before another operation takes DiamondJacks’ place.