Caesars New Orleans plans to open new hotel on Canal Street this fall

Following delays, the Caesars New Orleans hotel under construction alongside the casino is scheduled to open this fall, joining a host of new developments along New Orleans’ riverfront ahead of next year’s Super Bowl.

Caesars wants to open the 15-floor, 340-room hotel at the foot of Canal Street before the Super Bowl is held at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans in February, said Samir Mowad, the casino’s general manager.

Mowad spoke in an interview in Baton Rouge after a state Senate committee gave Caesars an additional year to be out of compliance with an employment rule meant to ensure local hiring. Mowad cited disruptions caused by the renovations.

Once finished, the hotel would join new riverfront projects, including a Four Seasons Hotel that opened in 2021, a new Canal Street ferry terminal completed last year, an upgrade of Spanish Plaza and a renovated Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium that also opened in 2023.

“Caesars is making a significant investment in hotels and restaurants,” Sen. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, sponsor of the legislation, Senate Bill 277, told the committee.

State law has long required New Orleans’ only-land based casino, formerly Harrah’s, to maintain a workforce of at least 2,400 to ensure that locals benefit from the original deal.

But the Legislature agreed in 2022 to give Caesars two years to employ fewer workers while it was constructing the hotel and renovating the casino. The legislation passed by the Senate Judiciary B Committee gives Caesars an extra year until mid-2025 to comply. SB277 now advances to the full Senate.

Mowad estimated that only 60% of the gambling floor is operational now as the company reconfigures the casino, work that includes opening three quick service restaurants and two high end restaurants.

“We’re literally renovating every square inch of what we had,” Mowad said. “Once the restaurants and hotels open up, we’ll get back to full employment.”

The casino has had the Harrah’s name on it since opening in the mid-1990s but is about to be brought under the Caesars banner, Mowad said, now that Caesars owns Harrah’s.

Though the workforce exemption is due, in this instance, to the fact that renovations have put whole swaths of the casino out of commission, it’s not the first time the casino has sought to soften its requirement. A change made at the company’s behest several years ago now allows the workforce to include workers at the restaurants and at the Harrah’s across Poydras Street from the casino.

The company got the Legislature in 2019 to extend its license for 30 more years, until 2054, and allow it to open the restaurants. In exchange, the company pledged to open the hotel, invest at least $325 million and pay tens of millions of dollars more to the state and the city of New Orleans over the 30 years.

Plans for the company to revamp a block of Fulton Street next to the existing hotel have been scrapped, Mowad said.

When the Legislature approved the extension, Caesars officials said they planned to hire an additional 500 employees once the hotel opened. Mowad would not commit to that figure Tuesday, saying that the company has had trouble finding qualified employees.

“Definitely the landscape of the world has changed since COVID,” he said.

Total gross gambling revenue was $23 million in February, compared to $26 million, the month before COVID shut down the casino temporarily, according to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

The casino has to pay the state at least $65 million a year.

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