The smokestack for the Isle of Capri casino boat in Lake Charles is pushed against the I-10 bridge following Hurricane Laura. The boat came loose from its mooring and got stuck underneath the bridge before being retrieved. The head of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board said three of the four gambling halls in Lake Charles could be open as soon as next week.

The Lake Charles gambling market could start reopening as early as next week after being shut down since August 25 by Hurricane Laura.

Golden Nugget Lake Charles and L’Auberge Lake Charles are trying to reopen in “the next few days, a week or so,” said Mike Noel, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. The slot machines at the Delta Downs racetrack in Vinton should reopen soon after that, “the next week at the earliest."

The situation with Isle of Capri in Westlake is a little more complicated. The hurricane actually unmoored the gambling barge and it drifted until it became stuck under the Calcasieu River Bridge. A tugboat returned the barge back to its proper space several hours later.

The barge sustained only moderate damage and didn’t take on any water, Noel said. However, the strong winds whipped up by Laura, the strongest to ever hit Louisiana, did significant damage to the land-based facility that will become the Isle’s new home.

The construction of the $112.7 million resort had been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The question now is if Caesars Entertainment, the parent company of the Isle, wants to focus on restarting the construction project or opening the Isle back up, Noel said.

The Lake Charles casino market is the busiest in the state. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, the three riverboats and Delta Downs had gross revenue of $713.2 million, according to figures from the gaming control board. Golden Nugget brought in $259 million in gross revenue, the most of any gambling property in the state. L’Auberge was second, with gross revenue of nearly $241.5 million, and Delta Downs was the top-performing racino, with $141.7 million in gross revenue.

Laura mainly did wind damage to the casinos, blowing off roof sections and cooling units, Noel said. That did allow rainwater to get in and damage carpet, but there was no significant interior damage, he said.

“We were very fortunate that the majority of our hotel and casino was unaffected by Hurricane Laura,” Gerry Del Prete, Golden Nugget senior vice president of gaming operations, said in a statement. He said the casino should be able to open in the next few days, pending the necessary state and local approvals.

Before any of the gambling halls can reopen, there have to be inspections by Louisiana State Police, the state fire marshal’s office and ABS Group, the firm that took over marine inspections from the U.S. Coast Guard.

“There are processes they have go to through,” Noel said, noting that they’re the same processes that happen before riverboats shut down in advance of a hurricane.

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