Friday, June 21, 2024

A new start for an old casino

by David Specht

Former DiamondJacks to be rebranded, rebuilt, and reborn

A shuttered casino in Bossier City will soon find life again, thanks to a Mississippi gaming company. Foundation Gaming & Entertainment, LLC announced the completion of the acquisition of the Diamond Jacks Casino & Hotel after receiving the requisite approval from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board at its December meeting.

The company intends to redevelop the Diamond Jacks property, which has been closed since March of 2020, including constructing a land-based casino replacing the existing casino riverboat.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Bossier City and for the former Diamond Jacks property,” said Bossier City Mayor Tommy Chandler. “Foundation Gaming is planning to create a unique experience for this area, as well as creating several hundred jobs. We’re excited to welcome new visitors to the city, as well as residents who are looking forward to this property being in operation once again.”

Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation Executive Director David Rockett said the process to bring the casino back to life was a collaborative effort.

“We worked with the Gaming Control Board, and especially the Chairman, in the early days of what possibilities were available to the property,” Rockett said. “Once DiamondJacks made it known they were not going to reopen, the issue became whether the property could be occupied again, renovated, transferred or in the worst case be a blight on the interstate as a perpetually empty facility.  To avoid that final scenario, the best case available was a license transfer to a strong organization that would be willing to see the opportunities and be a good partner for our market.  I, along with the gaming control board, and the Chairman Mr. (Ronnie) Johns, believe we have that, and I am very enthusiastic about the future of the property.”

Foundation is not a new player in the gaming industry. The company owns and operates WaterView Casino & Hotel in Vicksburg, Mississippi and Fitz Casino & Hotel in Tunica, Mississippi.

Donn Mitchell, CFO of Foundation Gaming & Entertainment, said, “This acquisition plays to our strengths of reviving existing properties in well-established regional markets, as well as adding diversity to our geographic footprint. Once we get construction and renovations completed, the property will be a welcome addition to our existing portfolio.”

According to previously published reports, demolition will begin in early 2023, to be followed by construction of a 47,000-square-foot casino, a sports betting lounge and 300-seat live entertainment venue, as well as renovation of the 405-room hotel.

The property was the first casino to open in northwest Louisiana in 1994, initially doing business as the Isle of Capri. It was shuttered in 2020 from what previous owner Peninsula Pacific called the “unexpected impact” of the COVID-19 pandemic.” It has been vacant ever since.

Peninsula sought to transfer its casino license to the New Orleans suburb of St. Tammany Parish, but voters there overwhelmingly rejected allowing casinos. That failure, opened the door for Foundation to buy and seek approval for the former DiamondJacks property upgrade.

“It’s a great day for Northwest Louisiana and for Bossier City when we see blighted property, begin the stages of coming back into commerce,” said Bossier Chamber President and CEO Lisa Johnson. It is our understanding that several hundred million dollars will be put into this property to rehab and to bring it back to life as a land-based casino.” 

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