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Full House Resorts Urges Rejection of $250M Slidell Casino, Pitches $500M Lake Charles Project

Full House Resorts, perhaps feeling threatened by an effort to build a new $250 million casino resort in Slidell, Louisiana, is encouraging state lawmakers to reject allowing St. Tammany Parish voters to decide whether to lift a prohibition on gaming.

Full House Resorts Slidell Louisiana casino
Full House Resorts CEO Dan Lee is seen here in Nevada back in 2018. The gaming executive is pressing officials in Louisiana to consider hearing from other casino firms that may want to bid on a company’s casino license that it’s seeking to relocate. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) closed its DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City amid the pandemic. The California-based casino operator is seeking permission to relocate its gaming permit to Slidell, a market it finds more attractive. 

House Bill 702 would authorize a ballot referendum in St. Tammany Parish. If a simple majority of local voters back the question, P2E would be cleared to build a casino resort in the parish. The company has suggested a $250 million investment at the Lakeshore Marina.

Full House, however, says Louisiana shouldn’t simply allow a company to relocate its casino license without holding a competitive bid. If the state would put the gaming privileges up for auction, Full House reveals it would present a $500 million development in Lake Charles. 

“What I want is the ability to compete for this license and put it in Lake Charles,” Dan Lee, CEO of Full House, told The New Orleans Advocate. “It would be twice the investment and twice the jobs and grow gaming revenue.”

Mississippi Competition

Full House has a major reason to oppose P2E’s campaign to relocate to Slidell. Full House’s Silver Slipper Casino Hotel in nearby Mississippi is located just a 30-minute drive east from Slidell.

P2E’s targeted site is also not far from Mississippi’s Gulf Coast riverboat casinos. A 2019 study conducted by Spectrum Gaming on behalf of the Louisiana Economic Development agency found that one-third of Louisiana gamblers who travel to Mississippi Gulf Coast casinos would stay in-state if there were more conveniently accessible casinos.

Currently, residents in the St. Tammany Parish and surrounding areas looking to keep their gaming dollars in the state need to make the lengthy journey south across Lake Pontchartrain. There, they can either head into downtown New Orleans to Harrah’s, or visit one of the two riverboats — Boomtown or Treasure Chest. 

As for Lee’s comments suggesting that Louisiana should hold a competitive bid, P2E lobbyist Danny Ford said his motive is clear. 

He’s a Mississippi operator. He stands to lose money,” Ford declared. 

“We are still losing revenue to Mississippi that we have the ability to keep in the state,” Ford added.

Full House Odds Long

The Louisiana House of Representatives has already approved HB702. It’s expected to soon face a full vote in the Senate. If it passes in the upper chamber, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) says he will sign the legislation to allow St. Tammany Parish voters to have the final decision on the Slidell casino.

For now, it appears Full House’s wishes of having a chance to grab P2E’s casino license are slim. However, Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chair Mike Noel says if the legislation does not pass, or voters reject the referendum, P2E would need to act quickly to reopen in Bossier, or concede its gaming rights. 

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