Louisiana gaming officials believe the new Live! Casino in Shreveport will spark a rebirth of one of the Southeast’s original casino markets.
But will Texans decide to make the trip?
The Cordish Companies officially broke ground this week on the $270 million casino resort project at the location of the former Diamond Jacks Casino in Bossier City. It was originally the Isle of Capri when it opened in 1994.
Sister cities Shreveport and Bossier City boomed in the 1990s and early 2000s largely due to Texas residents making the drive across the border. Gaming and area officials are hoping the new casino will lure them back.
The Texas impact on Louisiana casinos
Texas is one of the few states that does not allow commercial casinos. Texas online casinos are also prohibited. Because of those two facts, Texans spend millions of dollars every year playing in out-of-state casinos, mainly in Oklahoma.
Twenty years ago, casinos in Shreveport-Bossier City benefitted from Texas residents, mainly from Dallas-Fort Worth, pouring in to play.
The area has lost 21% of gross gaming revenue since 2007. That coincides with the opening of tribal casinos in Oklahoma, including the mammoth Winstar Casino in Thackerville. Instead of a three-hour drive east to Shreveport, Metroplex residents favored an hour drive north to Oklahoma to get their gambling fix.
While it’s not possible to accurately ascertain how many Texas residents spend money in Louisiana casinos, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board figures that 22.5 million visitors to its casino establishments come from out of state.
Lake Charles has now surpassed Shreveport-Bossier City as the strongest casino market in state. Lake Charles has just three casinos but is a two-hour drive from Houston. The American Gaming Association ranks Lake Charles as the No. 14 gambling market in the country, with Shreveport No. 20.
Optimism is high that casino will boost economy
Diamond Jacks has been closed since 2020, a casualty of COVID-19 restrictions and concerns. The Cordish Companies scooped up the property and got approval to build the area’s first land-based casino.
The group plans on a site with more than 47,000 square feet of gaming space and over 1,000 slots and table games. There are designs for a sportsbook, multiple restaurants and an entertainment venue available for concerts and conventions.
Plans are for the Live! casino to open in the first quarter of 2025. Louisiana Gaming Commission Chairman Ronnie Johns told the Shreveport Times that he believes the new casino will help the area thrive again.
“I honestly think this development will grow the entire Shreveport-Bossier market. That’s been proven in the Lake Charles market. When the new Horseshoe opened there, it expanded the market rather than cannibalized it.”
The Cordish Companies CEO Rob Norton told USA Today Network that he is equally optimistic.
“We intend for it to be a game-changing project for the Bossier City market.”
Johns hailed The Cordish Companies’ work in Dallas creating the Live! Entertainment district adjacent to Globe Life Park (home of the Texas Rangers) and AT&T Stadium.
“They had 9 million visitors to Texas Live! last year. They know what they are doing.”
Other Shreveport-Bossier casinos making improvements
Other casinos in Shreveport are spending money on improvements to compete with the new Live! casino and attract cars with Texas license plates.
Margaritaville is opening a Drago’s restaurant (famous for its char-grilled oysters). The Horseshoe has recently added a hotel.
Johns thinks all these improvements will lure not only Texans back to the area.
“Everyone else in the market is stepping up to the plate with significant improvements. The combination of all of these things, I believe, is going to be a boost to the Shreveport-Bossier market.”