Louisiana gambling fans in or near Kenner can find Treasure that’s bigger and better in a new spot in town.
That’s because Treasure Chest riverboat casino will be coming ashore under Act 469. This Act from 2018 allows riverboat licenses to move to a land-based location within 1,200 feet of their berth.
At the Dec. 16 Louisiana Gaming Control Board monthly meeting, the Board unanimously approved the “relocation and modification” of Treasure Chest casino’s license. Board Chairman Ronnie Johns commented that this is “just what we envisioned happening” when the legislature passed Act 469.
Building back for bettor
Janet Boles of Boyd Gaming, the Treasure Chest’s parent company, noted that they’d started working on this plan back in 2018 and that Boyd is eager to “reinvigorate the property.”
During his presentation to the Board, Vincent Schwartz, Boyd’s Senior Vice President for the South, spoke of Boyd’s “big footprint in Louisiana.” Boyd Gaming is also the parent company of Delta Downs, Sam’s Town, Amelia Belle, and Evangeline Downs.
Schwartz demonstrated how plans for Treasure Chest, currently a 3-tier barge with a newly opened LA sportsbook, would expand the casino’s offerings when it moves on land as a single-floor entity with an estimated budget of $95 million.
Restaurants would increase from 2 to 4; slots from about 910 to 1,000; tables from 25 to 30. Square footage will increase from 23,668 to 45,000.
A new sports bar will service the centrally located FanDuel Sportsbook, and entertainment will happen on a new stage. A new event center will accommodate 300 to 400 guests. In total, visitors will enjoy substantially more non-gaming amenities than the current Treasure Chest offers, Schwartz noted.
According to Schwartz, the reopening in the new location will likely happen in the latter part of 2023. While construction of the new property goes on, Boyd expects some possible inconveniences but no real disruption of the current operation.
Benefits for Louisiana
With this move, Louisiana’s ship could be coming in, in more ways than one.
Boyd Gaming estimates an economic impact of $668 million over ten years in the New Orleans area.
The new Treasure Chest construction could mean about 1,000 jobs paying $50,000 and over per year. In addition, the casino property will employ some 200 more workers than it does currently.
Schwartz also noted that Boyd has donated to area food banks, the Council on Aging, the American Red Cross and more, especially in the aftermath of this year’s bad hurricane season.
Cheerleading from the Mayor’s office
Representing Kenner, Mayor Ben Zahn and current Economic Development Director Candace Watkins, enthused about the proposal, said:
“We love the Treasure Chest, and we want them to be beautiful and brand-new again. They are a critical piece of a master plan that we have for Laketown. They’ve been wonderful corporate citizens and community partners… They are a major source of our capital funds each year.”
“We would love to see them…elevate the image of Kenner.”
Three of a kind
With the Board’s approval and assuming all compliance and other conditions are met, Treasure Chest will be the third casino to move and operate ashore under the auspices of Act 469.
In 2019, the Isle of Capri Casino in Lake Charles was the first to receive such approval under the Act. It was expected to open in May 2021, but the pandemic changed the world’s plans. And then, two Category 4 hurricanes, Laura and Delta, delayed things. At this juncture, hopes center on an autumn 2022 opening under the Caesars casino brand name of Horseshoe Casino.
Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge was the next to secure approval to move to land and expected to be ready to reopen, with or without a name change the second half of 2022.
So, adding in Harrah’s New Orleans and Treasure Chest come 2023, Louisiana gambling fans should have a total of four land-based casinos from which to choose.