Concerned voters say new casino won't work

Opposition speaks out about Margaritaville casino project

BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - The Margaritaville Casino project has been labeled as the casino that will transform Bossier City's riverboat gaming. The proposed casino is a $195 million project that has a resort feel and voters will decide whether they want to bring this development to the city's riverfront at the November 19 election.

William Trotter, developer of Margaritaville casino, has been promoting the new development since he introduced it to the Bossier City Council five months ago. "I've met with the Chamber, Bossier Council, Parish Council and they are all on board," said Trotter.

He said other area casinos were on board with the project even though many executives were at the first council meeting to oppose the newest addition.

"The gaming control board has a letter from Pinnacle that says they are neutral on this project and from what I understand all the boats are being neutral on this, realizing that this is going to bring fresh blood into the market area so to speak."

However, one casino said that was not the case. That was evident when a "Vote NO" billboard popped up along Interstate 20 last week. Diamond Jacks was the casino responsible for the billboard and flyers that were sent to every registered voter in Bossier Parish. KSLA News 12 sat down with CEO Michael Kelly and general manager Dominic Ricciardelli to express why they felt the market could not support Margaritaville.

To compare notes, Trotter said the proposed casino would grow the market by 12.5 percent. Diamond Jacks said gaming revenue in the area has declined by nearly $100 million over the past five years. They said there was a possibility that at least three casinos, including Harrah's Racetrack, could close their doors once the "excitement" of a new casino wears off.

Trotter said the 400 room Margaritaville Resort will bring in more than 1,200 jobs. Diamond Jacks said they have nearly 550 rooms at its hotel and only employ a little more than 700 people. They said if the casino opens the loss of jobs at other casino's would not equal out.

Also, Trotter said the Margaritaville theme will bring in Jimmy Buffett fans with a heavy population in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Diamond Jacks said the Caribbean style casino has already been done in Shreveport-Bossier and it was not successful. In fact, the Isle of Capri became Diamond Jacks.

When the proposed casino was accepted by the Bossier City Council five months ago, the council promised they would research to find out how this project would affect other venues. Diamond Jacks said the city council never approached them to ask how they would be affected if voters approved the new project.

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