Harrah’s New Orleans given 30-year extension, but at a high cost
Lawmakers approve a bill to authorize the semi-permanent license
Harrah’s New Orleans doesn’t have to worry about renewing its license for the next 30 years. The Caesars Entertainment property has just received approval for what could be considered a semi-permanent license from lawmakers, who signed off on a bill authorizing the extension. However, the license carries a few conditions that will force Harrah’s to dig deeper into its pockets.
House Bill 544 (HB 544) was approved by the House and then made its way to the Senate, where it was green-lighted in a 27-10 split. Harrah’s had to commit to spending $325 million to upgrade the property in order for the bill to be approved, but that’s just part of the expenses coming.
The casino also has to give the city of New Orleans a one-time tax payment of $19.5 million, which will be paid over the next three years. It also has to give the state $3.4 million a year for the license and has to pay a guaranteed minimum of $60 million a year in tax revenue. In addition, Harrah’s will continue to make other monthly payments to New Orleans for the venue. The casino is actually owned by the city, which leases it to Caesars.
The money given to the state will be used, in part, to fund cancer research, childhood education, water projects and to support gambling addiction programs. The $19.5 million going to New Orleans, though, has yet to find a designated target.
The upgrade to the property will see the construction of a new hotel tower with 340 rooms and new restaurants and entertainment spaces, but not more gambling options. The bill prohibits the gaming space from being enlarged.