Look For Changes At Eldorado And La, Downs
New ownership and branding just the beginning
The odds are that if you are driving around Shreveport-Bossier and end up near a couple of the local gaming venues, you’re going to notice some changes being made.
Bally’s Corporation took over the operation of the Eldorado Casino on Nov. 3. Among the first changes were:
• The interior signage.
• Dice branding.
• Gaming chips.
• The layout of the table games.
• The introduction of a new players club reward program.
The rebranding of the entire property is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
In a news release announcing the changes, George Papanier, President, Retail at Bally’s Corporation, said, “We are proud to bring the Bally’s brand to Shreveport, and it’s an exciting time for our customers and team members. I’d like to thank the state of Louisiana for its collaboration throughout this process, and I’d also like to recognize our team members for their contributions to this significant endeavor.”
Bally’s kicked off their new efforts by transferring player rewards from the previous system to the new four-tiered card program. Bally Rewards card members will earn rewards, tier status, exclusive offers, gift giveaways, casino multipliers, among others. Earlier this month, there were special cash giveaways as part of the change-over.
A spokesperson for the corporation told 318 Forum that more changes and announcements would be coming soon.
On the other side of the river, the Louisiana Racing Commission approved the purchase of Louisiana Downs by Rubico Acquisition Corporation (RAC). Kevin Preston, president of RAC, said, “We have been planning this purchase for over a year.”
He said the decision-making process began a year earlier than that for him, but the wait was worth it. “Coming to Bossier and visiting the property on multiple occasions and getting to know the team members, I just knew there was something special there. It has such an historic and iconic history We’re just looking forward to getting it back to where it was.”
The considerable size of the complex’s footprint was a plus for Preston, and he said there is a great deal of potential in the facility. “We saw that there was a lot of low-hanging fruit, and we could come in and improve the food and beverage outlets and some amenities to both the racing and the gaming side. We thought that we could do some really special things there. Where it’s located, you’ve got the new entrance ramp coming off [I-220] shortly. There’s just a ton of opportunity.”
Another plus for Preston was the coming of The Sports Book, which allows a gambler to wager on sports competitions like golf, football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, horse racing, greyhound racing, boxing and mixed martial arts. Preston said those gambling opportunities would help boost the purses for racing.
Preston said he was also interested in making sure the casino side and the racetrack side are working as a single entity, and he sees the track side as a potential area of improvement. “The racing side, between the barns and the conditions (of the physical plant), the purses need to get better. There’s just a lot of things we need to do on the racing side that’s going to provide that driver for everything else. The biggest thing is marrying the two. This is one company, one team, and we’re going to put money into the casino side, and we’re going to put money into the racing side, and we’re going to make this thing marry together.”
While Preston said the track is still one of the premier horse racing venues in the region and there is room for improvement, the important factor in taking over the facility is a vision.
“From our standpoint coming in as the new owner, we’ve got to make sure that we’re getting people out there and getting them excited again with the entertainment value and additional restaurants,” Preston said. “I like our facility a lot. As long as we can get our marketing program in place, get some great entertainment, food and beverage offerings, I think we’re going to get back to where we were. We’ve got to get better races, better horses and obviously things to do to generate that excitement for people to come back again.”
Preston said just as important as gambling and racing are other attractions that will bring people to his door.
“My number one goal is to increase the purses, get better races, better horses coming to the track,” he said. “Then doing other things. Family fun days at the track. Entertainment with concerts either in between or after the races so you’ve got an opportunity to enjoy some additional entertainment. Just things that have never been done before or haven’t been done in a long time.”
One of the things that has struck Preston in his short association with the facility is the attitude of some long-time staff. “We’ve got team members that have been there 30 and 40 years who have come up to me during our team meetings who say they want to see someone put some attention to the racing side. That’s what we’re going to do.
“Just watch what is going to happen because this thing is going to be transformed over the next year. We just want to make the city and the community proud.”