Belle Of Baton Rouge Land-Based Casino Plans Moving Along Slowly

Written By J.R. Duren on July 12, 2023
Peruvian Amazon 3 Toed Sloth Smiles on Tree with Belle of Baton Rouge casino hotel logo

Louisiana‘s Belle of Baton Rouge riverboat casino is trading the water for dry land.

Belle’s owner, The Queen Casino and Entertainment (QCE), is in the process of submitting plans and, eventually, getting permits to begin construction. QCE plans to convert the riverboat’s land-based atrium into a casino and add a hotel to the property, according to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.

Owners plan to open land-based Belle by October 2024

At the Louisiana Gaming Control Board’s (LGCB) April 17 meeting, QCE CEO Terry Downey revealed that the casino hopes to start construction this October and open in October 2024.

To meet that goal, though the Louisiana casino has to provide blueprints for the new property, obtain approval, and get multiple permits to start construction.

And, so far, that process has gone a bit slower than anticipated. The casino’s owners have asked for multiple extensions for plan-submission deadlines. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.

For example, QCE asked for an extension in April to give it time to explore increasing the scope of the project.

Louisiana casino owners scale up project with hundreds more hotel rooms, slots

At the April meeting, Downey detailed what that scope increase would look like. The original plan was to build a 90-room hotel and bring the casino’s slots total to 350 machines.

However, Downey said QCE wants to boost those numbers to 250 rooms and 650 slot machines.

That news went over well with LGCB Chairman Ronnie Johns, who said the project’s expanded scope and the money to be invested in it will be a win for the Baton Rouge area.

“This is incredible news for Baton Rouge and for the gaming market,” Johns said. “So, you’re going from 90 rooms to 250…rooms, which is  much needed in the downtown Baton Rouge area, and basically doubling the size of your gaming operation.”

Transition to a land-based casino could take just over two years

QCE first petitioned the LGCB to convert the Belle of Baton Rouge into a land-based casino this past September. The LGCB approved the petition. At the time, it had 90 days to submit initial plans for the project.

QCE asked for an extension of that 90-day deadline in November. And, since then, it’s slowly worked through the process.

If the casino can hit all its future deadlines without needing more extensions, it’s possible it could open its land-based casino 25 months after first bringing the idea to the LGCB.

As for the casino’s branding and name, things could change by the time it opens its doors in 2024. For example, the Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge riverboat casino will change its name to Queen Baton Rouge when it opens up on land.

Photo by PlayUSA
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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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