A California gaming company wanted to construct a new casino in Slidell, Louisiana. But the local gaming authority rejected its proposal. The casino site is now an eyesore for local entrepreneurs.
Tall fescue has overgrown the land and local investors want the gaming operator that owns the 100-acre land to make up its mind on how it will use it. Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) permanently closed the DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The firm stated that Bossier City's gaming market wasn't attractive anymore due to stiff competition. It sought the state's permission to relocate the Louisiana gaming license to Slidell.
Still, voters in St. Tammany Parish had to back the proposal before P2E kicked off its $325 million project for Camellia Bay Resort. Even so, they didn't approve the gaming company's request as 63 percent of them rejected the casino ballot in November.
This resulted in Churchill Downs Inc. purchasing most of P2E's assets. But it didn't plan to reopen DiamondJacks and it later sold the shuttered property cheaply to Foundation Gaming.
Churchill wasn't interested in purchasing P2E's Slidell land. So, the property has remained vacant and it has an uncertain future.
The Blind Tiger Is Underperforming
P2E wanted to develop a luxurious casino resort in the Lakeshore Marinna off Interstate 10 north of New Orleans near Lake Pontchartrain. It intended to build it near The Blind Tiger, a renowned restaurant in the region. Unfortunately, the casino property is unkept since its license application failed.
The local community says that the land is full of weeds and grass. Also, parish officials claim that many people have complained about the grass that has reached five feet in some sections. Thomas Genin, The Blind Tiger's owner, informed WDSU that P2E also purchased the marina in 2021 when it bought the Slidell land.
He added that the gaming operator evicted some boat lessees a few months ago and barricaded the marina. This has significantly reduced The Blind Tiger's restaurant traffic. Genin added that they P2E to do anything on the land including relaunching the marina or maintaining it.
Parish officials have a different opinion as they cannot order the casino what to do to maintain its property. Michael Vinsanau, the parish spokesperson and a former WDSU journalist, explained that they will send their code enforcement officers to find out how they can help P2E.
The Unknown Future
Peninsula Pacific paid $14 million when it purchased 100 acres and the Lakeshore Marina in 2021 from a consortium of firms and banks that had been managing it. Yet, local officials are optimistic that even though the casino's plan failed, it will bring more development to the region.
Jake Airey, St. Tammany Parish Councilor informed the New Orleans Advocate that they want to see a property that resembles a casino such as restaurants, or a hotel. The Camellia Bay's rejection made St. Tammany and Slidell lose all economic benefits that it would have earned them.
They include annual gaming tax revenue, and permanent and construction jobs. P2E was willing to offer $5 million to help in the Slidell ring levee's construction.
Still, it would spend $35 million on developing a public athletics center. But, the two projects largely depended on the casino referendum's success.