Board worries boat for sale

Jul 22, 2003 6:35 AM

Speculative press reports that Park Place Entertainment Corp. ”” soon to become Caesars Entertainment ”” might sell off some assets in order to generate funds to invest in its Las Vegas properties, nearly started another Battle of New Orleans.

Park Place Entertainment fully owns the Bally’s Casino riverboat on Lake Portchartrain in New Orleans, now that it has paid off its former partner, and wants concessions from the Orleans Levee Board regarding berthing rental payments.

The concessions, said the owner, were needed because the riverboat’s business was lousy and was actually losing money. In fact, Bally’s officials said the boat had run up losses totaling $11.5 million in the years 2000 to 2002. Also, during that period, gambling revenues declined from $65.2 million to $57.3 million.

So, with those losses in hand, the boat’s operators asked the Levee Board to restructure its 10-year agreement to reduce its rental payments. The board said it tallied the request and determined that the new agreement would cost the flood control agency nearly $900,000 in future rental payments.

But the feathers really flew when word was received that Park Place Entertainment might sell the boat. A sale might be more attractive, officials said, if the owners were able to offer the boat for sale with a new lower rental agreement.

"This was a tough deal to consider before (the press reports)," said a board member. "But, it may be an impossible one to consider now."