Caesars to spend $325 million to rebrand and expand its New Orleans hotel-casino

December 9, 2020 11:57 AM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
December 9, 2020 11:57 AM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports

Caesars Entertainment is putting its brand on the company’s New Orleans resort.

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The Reno-based casino operator said Tuesday it will spend $325 million to transform the recently acquired Harrah’s New Orleans into Caesars New Orleans, giving the property near the French Quarter a second hotel tower, a redesigned interior and exterior, and new amenities.

The plans were unveiled to the New Orleans Building Corporation, with Caesars saying it expects the renovation to be completed by 2024. The development is still subject to approvals of the city of New Orleans and the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

Artist’s rendering of the planned hotel for the renovated Caesars New Orleans

“We are excited to introduce Caesars New Orleans to the city,” Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said in a statement.

The property has been the only land-based casino in Louisiana since it opened 20 years ago on Canal Street, near the Mississippi River and the city’s convention center. Caesars Entertainment was awarded an extension to its operating contract in June 2019 that will last until 2054.

“This reinvestment is a testament to our continued commitment,” Reeg said.

Harrah’s New Orleans already has a 26-story, 450-room hotel tower that opened in 2006 on Poydras Street adjacent to the casino. An all-new 340-room hotel tower will be built above the existing casino’s valet porte cochère.

The property’s 115,000-square-foot casino will be remodeled, and the exterior and interior of the building will include architectural and design enhancements. New restaurants and other amenities will also be added.

Caesars said in a statement that the renovated property would provide “millions in tax revenue to New Orleans and Louisiana” and create 600 construction jobs during the development phase. The property will add 500 new jobs once the renovation and expansion are completed.

The plans for Harrah’s New Orleans constitute the first major property renovation announced by Caesars Entertainment since the company’s $17.3 billion merger with Eldorado Resorts in July. Eldorado, the acquiring company, took on the name Caesars and installed its own management team.

Caesars has pending deals in Louisiana to sell Eldorado Shreveport (along with the operations of MontBleu Resort Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nevada) to Bally’s Corp. for a combined $155 million, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack in Bossier City to Rubico Acquisition Corp. for $22 million, and Belle of Baton Rouge to CQ Holding Co., for an undisclosed price.

In addition to Harrah’s New Orleans, Caesars operates Horseshoe Bossier City and Isle of Capri Lake Charles.

The land and buildings associated with Harrah’s New Orleans are owned by real estate investment trust VICO Properties and leased back to Caesars.

In a statement provided by Caesars, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the renovation of the hotel-casino would help “move this city forward and fuel our economic recovery.” Cantrell said, “The addition of Caesars New Orleans will strengthen our city’s position as the top cultural and entertainment destination city in the nation.”

When the property opened originally in 1999, Harrah’s Entertainment – Caesars’ previous operating company – agreed to launch the resort without a hotel and with limited restaurants, in order to placate local businesses.

The property struggled, however, for several years. The hotel was added as part of a subsequent deal with the city that also created the Fulton Street Alley outdoor promenade with various non-gaming amenities, including a sports bar themed after the NFL’s Manning family – quarterbacks Archie, Peyton, and Eli, who are all natives of New Orleans.

The redeveloped location opened in 2006 and helped in the area’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Harrah’s New Orleans General Manager Samir Mowad said the renovation is including “local architects and designers to help enhance an already incredible destination.”

Shares of Caesars closed Tuesday at $75.27 on the Nasdaq, up 41 cents or 0.55%.

Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at Follow @howardstutz on Twitter