The Louisiana Gaming Control Board gave unanimous approval Thursday to a $181 million proposal to build a sixth riverboat casino-hotel in the Shreveport-Bossier City market in that state.
A group known as Bossier City Casino Venture LLC has an option to buy one of the two riverboat licenses in Lake Charles that are now owned by Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. Plans call for a one-story casino boat to be built on a Red River site in Bossier City, along with a 396-room hotel, four restaurants and a multi-use facility for concerts and meetings.
The development is named the Margaritaville Resort Casino. Bossier City Casino Venture has a licensing agreement with Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Properties, which has hotels, restaurants and consumer items.
The development company is owned by Louisiana businessman William Trotter and Silver Slipper Gaming LLC, which has a casino in Hancock County, Miss.
Plans call for the project to open in May 2013. Voters in Louisiana's Bossier Parish must approve it in a Nov. 19 referendum for the project to proceed.
If the plan wins voter approval, Isle of Capri would be shutting down its Crown Casino in Lake Charles. It also owns the Grand Palais riverboat casino in that city. The Crown typically is the lowest-winning riverboat in the state, taking in less than $2 million a month.
Paul Alanis, chief executive officer of Silver Slipper, discounted the idea that Margaritaville would only chop away at gambling winnings of the other riverboat casinos in Shreveport-Bossier City, along with the Louisiana Downs track casino. In recent years, Indian nation casinos in Oklahoma have grown to about $3 billion in annual winnings from players, while the Shreveport-Bossier City market has leveled out at around $780 million a year, he said.
Both markets compete for players from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Analysts have said Oklahoma has gained an advantage because of its closer proximity to the area.
"We will grow this market and capture some of that $3 billion that is going to Oklahoma," he said.
Alanis said the Margaritaville brand will appeal to middle- and high-end players, will attract players back from Oklahoma and will be appealing to those who have had experiences with the Margaritaville label. Its site will be adjacent to the Louisiana Boardwalk, a riverside complex of 92 stores and restaurants.
Although Bossier City Casino Venture is buying the Crown Casino as part of the license deal, Alanis said an all-new one-story dockside gambling boat would be built on-site in Bossier City.
According to what the developers called conservative figures, Margaritaville will help grow the Shreveport-Bossier City market to $842 million in gambling revenue in 2014.
Alanis was once a top official with Horseshoe Casinos, which has a Bossier City riverboat _ now owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp. _ that leads the market in casino winnings. He and Trotter said they immediately began working on bringing a casino to Bossier City after losing a competitive heat for the state's final riverboat license in Lake Charles.