Belle of Baton Rouge Transforms into Majestic Land-Based Casino+Hotel Complex

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The Belle of Baton Rouge, a famous riverboat in Louisiana, stands poised to embark on a new journey as it swaps its watery realm for a solid foundation. This Louisiana Queen is on the cusp of transforming her gaming space from a floating riverboat to a sturdy brick-and-mortar casino floor.

Originally named CQ Holding Company, Queen Casino & Entertainment Inc. announced in April 2023 its ambitious plan to move the Belle of Baton Rouge to dry land. This follows the successful relocation of its other riverboat, The Queen Baton Rouge, to a new terrestrial facility the previous year, a venture that amounted to a $70 million investment.

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Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. (GLPI), a real estate investment trust under the control of Penn Entertainment, are the figures behind the curtain in this transformation. As landlords of the Belle of Baton Rouge, they have confirmed their primary financial role in the casino’s relocation. The mammoth project, predicted to cost around $141 million, will be substantially funded by GLPI’s contribution of $111 million, with Queen Casino & Entertainment footing the bill for the remaining $30 million.

Peter Carlino, the chairman and CEO of GLPI, offered a bullish statement, “Buoyed by the success our joint venture experienced with the landside move of The Queen Baton Rouge, we’re committing to fund the transfer of the Belle. Queen Casino & Entertainment has consistently demonstrated an aptitude for utilizing new and exciting offerings to grow the overall gaming market, and we anticipate this project following in the same successful vein.”

Once completed, the physical property that will be the new Belle of Baton Rouge will belong to GLPI. They will then lease the operations to Queen Casino Entertainment at an annual rate, expected to rise by 9% every year, with the initial terms of rent not yet disclosed.

However, the planned revamp of the Belle Baton Rouge is not merely focused on the gaming aspect. Unlike The Queen, the Belle doubles as a 250-room hotel, an establishment that closed its doors in 2020. Now, renovation work on these guestrooms is well underway. Additional features of the Belle include a selection of lavish restaurants and bars located in the property’s atrium; the atrium is also under renovation as part of the complete makeover.

Situated just a mile south of the Louisiana State Capitol, and along the banks of the Mississippi River, the Belle is conveniently located less than two miles north of the Louisiana State University Campus. With Baton Rouge hotels frequently fully booked during LSU Tigers’ home football games, the decision to renovate the hotel rooms seems a safer bet than most casino endeavors.

Terry Downey, CEO of Queen Casino & Entertainment, commented, “We have been extremely pleased with The Queen’s performance since its grand reopening. Now, as we focus our attention on the Belle, we’re excited at the potential of realizing similar operational profits from this latest landside move.”

Downey further explained the tentative strategy of marketing the two properties joint, once the Belle project is complete.

While specifics about the Belle’s transformation are scarce, it was hinted that the property’s atrium would host the new casino floor. Reports last year speculated that the forthcoming Belle casino would feature approximately 350 slot machines and a dozen live dealer table games.

In conclusion, GLPI specified that their casino tenants were tasked with facility maintenance, insurance premiums, utilities, and property taxes.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.