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.
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.