The head of Louisiana’s Gaming Control Board, Ronnie Jones, is confident that recent changes to the law allowing river boat casinos to move onto dry land can be implemented before the end of the year. Under the auspices of the revamped legislation, the state’s 15 water-borne gambling facilities will be allowed to relocate up to 1,200 feet inland.
Explaining the rationale behind the change, he said that it was designed to encourage the addition of new locations with more hotel rooms and better facilities, adding: “This was about building new resorts, with amenities and having gambling by the way. You have later generation properties, like the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles. And they have to have a paddle wheel. It’s not going anywhere. It has a cement hull.”
Jones said that the Control Board will look at each property separately based on where it’s located. “There are big differences between the Lake Charles market and Amelia,” he noted. “I mean, those markets are incredibly different.”
The bill, which enables the state’s riverboat casinos to move onto nearby land, was signed in May this year by Governor John Bel. It was presented after scraping through legislature by just a single vote. It also facilitates a change to the maximum allowed gambling space per boat from the current limit of 30,000 square feet. Consequently, they will be allowed to offer 2,365 gaming positions each.
Supporters of the switch from water-borne to land-based casinos argue that with modernisation the riverboats will become significant revenue generators for Louisiana’s state coffers and help it keep pace with other states in the newly regulated sports betting environment.