New Mexico developer buying Isle of Capri Casinos property

The Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. has agreed to sell its Westlake property for about $134.5 million to a New Mexico developer.

If the deal is approved by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, Kicks Entertainment — an entity of Laguna Development Corp. — is planning some improvements to the site. LDC spokesman Skip Sayre, in a statement Monday, said changes planned include new slot machines, new decor and more food and beverage options.

Sayre said Isle of Capri remains a relevant gambling destination in the Lake Charles area, even among newer casinos like L'Auberge Casino Resort and the Golden Nugget, because of its stable target audience.

"It has a certain part of the market share, a certain kind of customer that this brand appeals to," Sayre said.

He said Laguna wants to solidify that customer base and build upon it in the near future.

"First thing is we keep those customers and keep them happy, and then offer other opportunities as far as our products and services that will allow us to grow the business," Sayre said.

Multiple news outlets report Laguna also plans to retain all of the property's nearly 1,000 employees.

"We want them to stay with us; we're not looking to come in and make a lot of management or staffing changes," Sayre said. "Employees that are in good standing when the transaction does close in several months, they will have the opportunity to stay if they want to do that."

On Monday, his team met with many employees who have worked at the property for 10 years or more. He said his company values that kind of commitment and loyalty, and plans to use it once they acquire the property.

Isle of Capri Chief Executive Officer Eric Hausler said the sale is expected to close in late fiscal 2017 to early fiscal 2018.

"We have enjoyed owning and operating Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Lake Charles for more than 20 years, and we appreciate the hard work and dedication of our team. While we work on a smooth transition to Kicks Entertainment, LLC, our focus remains on providing our customers with the great experiences they have come to expect from Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Lake Charles," Hausler said.

He said the company intends to use the cash proceeds from the proposed transaction to reduce debt and for other corporate purposes.