$325M Renovation To Transform Harrah’s To Caesars New Orleans

Poker Chip and Roulette and Casino Card Background

The iconic Harrah’s star will be replaced by Caesars’ golden laurel in 2024.

In an announcement last Tuesday, Caesars Entertainment revealed a $325M renovation and expansion that will transform Harrah’s New Orleans to Caesars New Orleans by 2024. The renovation was agreed upon last year as part of the company’s deal with the Louisiana Legislature to extend Caesars’ license to operate the casino until 2054. However, as part of the approval process, it still needs to go through the New Orleans Building Corporation.

Said Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg:

“We are excited to introduce Caesars New Orleans to the city. As the only land-based gaming operator in the city, we take great pride in our 20-year history in New Orleans, and this reinvestment is a testament to our continued commitment.”

Preliminary Plans

According to Caesars Entertainment, they will add an all-new 340-room hotel tower to the property. Aside from the hotel tower, Harrah’s will get a new carport or “valet porte cochere” at its existing entrance at the intersection of Canal Street and Convention Center Boulevard. New culinary and hospitality offerings will also be introduced within the New Orleans casino. There will also be additional developments in the unoccupied second floor of the New Orleans casino which will be announced later. Per Harrah’s GM Samir Mowad:

“What was shared today is only the beginning of a transformation.”

Caesars Entertainment also said that it wants to offer additional entertainment options aside from gambling at the site. Harrah’s had a 2,200 capacity music venue called Fillmore New Orleans but that venue has been closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Second Major Project

Caesars’ venture is the second major hospitality-related project to the end of Canal Street. Directly towards the street towards the Mississippi River is the $530M conversion of the former World Trade Center to the upscale Four Seasons hotel and condominium complex which is near its completion. The Las Vegas-based casino group said that the New Orleans project will create 600 jobs during its construction phase and it will employ around 500 full-time jobs once the project is completed in 2024, when its 30-year license renewal begins.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell expressed her excitement over the project:

“We are excited that this expansion will mean hundreds of construction jobs during the project and hundreds more in sustainable and new jobs post-construction. The addition of Caesars New Orleans will strengthen our city’s position as the top cultural and entertainment destination city in the nation.”

The merger between Caesars and Eldorado Resorts last July formed the largest gambling group in the United States. The $17.3B takeover process took a year and it included an order from Federal regulators to the merged company to sell several of its casino properties including the Eldorado Casino Resort in Shreveport.

Caesars Appoints New General Manager For Harrah’s New Orleans

Caesars Entertainment
Caesars Entertainment has appointed a new general manager for Harrah’s New Orleans as the New Orleans casino is about to break ground on a $325M expansion.

Samir Mowad’s appointment as senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s New Orleans was announced on Wednesday. The Louisiana native has a 15-year experience in the industry. Most recently, he served for five years as general manager for Caesars’ Entertainment in Iowa. Mowad has also overseen Harrah’s Council Bluffs, the Mid-America Center, and Hilton Garden Inn Council Bluffs.

According to Mowad, the new assignment is a dream job for him. Said Mowad in a press release:

“As someone who grew up in New Orleans and worked extensively in the hospitality industry, the opportunity to return home as the GM of Harrah’s New Orleans is the culmination of a journey I set out on when I joined the property 15 years ago to open Masquerade. This is nothing short of my dream job.”

No Easy Task

Mowad’s dream job though is no easy task. New Orleans casinos have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and Harrah’s is no exception. The casino was forced to close in mid-March and was allowed to reopen at 25% capacity only last June.

Aside from running the show in the New Orleans casino, Mowad will oversee Harrah’s $325M expansion which is expected to break ground soon. The development will include a new hotel, restaurants, and interiors and exteriors of the existing casino.

$325M Expansion

Last year, Caesars Entertainment successfully negotiated a 30-year license extension for Harrah’s New Orleans. In exchange for the approval of the Louisiana and New Orleans governments, Caesars Entertainment agreed to invest $325M in the property.

Harrah’s current license is set to expire in 2024 and by virtue of the agreement, it will be automatically renewed for 30 years. While the other details of the deal have not been ironed out yet due to the pandemic, the city hall of New Orleans is expected to get the project back on their agenda.

A Standalone Casino

When Harrah’s New Orleans opened in 1999, it was allowed to do so as a standalone casino. The purpose was to use the New Orleans casino as a tourist attraction to help the other hotels in the area. The city eased their stand in 2006 and allowed Harrah’s to build their current 450-room hotel located at Poydras street.

But the present hotel is always full booked, leaving Harrah’s to book tens of thousands of hotel rooms annually at nearby hotels for player comps. Because of that, Harrah’s New Orleans has lost millions of dollars in revenues each year on third-party room accomodations.