How Does Camellia Bay’s $325 Million Investment Compare to Similar Projects?

Of the 15 Other Active Casinos in the State, the Slidell Development Is Set to Outspend 11 of Them. 

SLIDELL, La. — The total investment for Camellia Bay Resort, Casino and Marina is $325 million, but how does that compare to other gaming related projects in Louisiana? Of the 15 other active casinos in the state, the Slidell development will outspend almost all of them.

Camellia Bay is part of what the developer, Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, or P2E, calls “the changing face of gaming in Louisiana,” i.e., breaking with the decades-long trend of riverboat gaming in the Pelican State and moving toward land-based entertainment resorts. Riverboat gaming meant lower investments in the area by developers. By comparison, you could build 32 Treasure Chest Casinos for the price of one Camellia Bay. Slidell isn’t getting a riverboat, it’s getting a resort.

Many of Louisiana’s casinos were built with an investment under $100 million:

  • Amelia Belle ($80 million) 
  • Belle of Baton Rouge ($93 million) 
  • Boomtown New Orleans ($70 million)
  • Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge ($60 million)
  • Sam’s Town Shreveport ($56.6 million)
  • Treasure Chest Casino Kenner ($10 million) 

Many of those figures are also including expansions not just initial development costs.

Another aspect of riverboat casinos to consider is that developers were forced to spend a massive portion of their investment on digging a moat to float the riverboat. This meant that a large portion of funding didn’t go to the amenities that visitors care about. 

Many of the casino developments in the $100–$250 million tier below Camellia Bay fit this description.

  • Boomtown in Bossier City ($134 million) 
  • El Dorado in Shreveport ($230 million) 
  • Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City ($140 million) 
  • Isle of Capri Casino Lake Charles ($225 million) 
  • Margaritaville Bossier City ($205 million) 

There are few developments in Louisiana that outspend the proposed Slidell project. However, according to Brent Stevens, CEO of P2E, these investments had an entirely different purpose than the one proposed for the Northshore. “Our plan is to build a first-class resort that is meant to highlight the beauty of Lake Pontchartrain and fit the location,” Brent said. “A billion-dollar, towering project would be counterproductive to that end. Camellia Bay is the right size for Slidell.”

Camellia Bay’s most comparable projects are L’Auberge in Lake Charles ($365 million) and its sister site in Baton Rouge ($368 million). However, both these projects were subject to riverboat restrictions. Unlike the L’Auberge sites, visitors at the proposed Slidell resort will be able to see where every dollar was spent.

“We have a very specific vision in mind for this development, and we’re investing to make sure it’s handled correctly,” Stevens said. The developers certainly haven’t been penny-pinching either. The company increased spending by $75 million earlier this year to respond to community input and make the most out of what they called “one of the best locations they’ve seen.”

According to Stevens, “When the referendum passes in December, Louisiana’s gaming industry will have a new standard for excellence, and it will be located on the Northshore.”