Isle of Capri entertains option to sell one of its riverboats

Updated: Jun. 14, 2011 at 10:47 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - According to their corporate headquarters it's business as usual for Isle of Capri's Lake Charles location. But behind the scenes deals are in the works to potentially move some of that business north to Bossier City. The company officially announced Tuesday they've entered into an option agreement to sell the smaller of its two riverboats to Paradise Casino, LLC.

Lafayette-based Paradise plans to build a new casino in Bossier City after obtaining one of the two gaming licenses currently owned by Isle of Capri. So how will this effect jobs at Isle of Capri?

"It's not necessarily a purchase at this point in time. Discussing jobs at this point would be really premature," said Jill Alexander, Isle of Capri Senior Director Corporate Communications.

Bossier City has already begun the process to get that riverboat and license. Tuesday afternoon the Bossier City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance for the first step in a property deal with Paradise Casino so they can build that new casino.

In order for Paradise to obtain the gaming license and transfer it to Bossier City they'll have to go before the Louisiana State Gaming Control Board. As of late Tuesday afternoon there was no official request. It's a process Paradise is somewhat familiar with. The co-owner of the company is St. Gabriel Downs - the same company which recently tried to gain access to the state's 15th and final gaming license - to build a proposed Hard Rock Casino on the Lake Charles Lakefront. That license was eventually awarded to Creative Casinos to build Mojito Pointe.

But even if Paradise does get the go ahead from the Gaming Control Board they still have to get approval by Bossier City voters -- something Paradise is optimistic about:

"If we're lucky, then we'll immediately close and start construction here for a wonderful $170,000,000 project, 400 rooms and a full service resort that we think will be a wonderful anchor for the Louisiana Boardwalk," said Deborah Harkins, Paradise Casino, LLC.

If all falls into place Isle of Capri will consolidate its operations to the Grand Palais - the larger of the two riverboats. While the wheels seem to be rolling, Isle of Capri says they're still committed to Lake Charles and it's not a done deal.

"Paradise and Bossier City have have a lot to do on their side and a lot to do accomplish and that doesn't mean it will all fall into place," said Alexander. "And basically, all that remains is that is just a possibility. Nothing has changed other than there is an agreement for a possibility."

The option agreement stands until November 30th. Paradise can request more time or the agreement be null in void.

We did reach out to Calcasieu Parish officials to get their thoughts on these developments. Isle of Capri is home to Calcasieu Police Juror Hal McMillin's district. McMillin said he's been in contact with the manager of Isle of Capri and hopes to discuss the matter further and explore other possibilities.

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