By David Jacobs | The Center Square
Casino revenue in Louisiana was down about 10 percent last month compared to last July, though the Baton Rouge market was up almost 5 percent, according to state regulators’ most recent report.
The state’s gaming sector was slumping even before the COVID-19 pandemic led Gov. John Bel Edwards to shut down casinos in March as part of his effort to control the spread of the new coronavirus. Casinos were allowed to reopen with limited capacity in May, though one property, DiamondJacks Casino & Hotel in Bossier City, has closed permanently.
The Shreveport/Bossier market as a whole fell 22.3 percent last month compared to July 2019, more than any other. Every property in the area declined year-over-year except Margaritaville, which was up 6.2 percent.
Every casino in the Lake Charles area took in less money year-over-year, and the market as a whole was down 6 percent.
Boomtown New Orleans was up 13.5 percent, but the other two river casinos were down by double digits. Harrah’s land-based casino in New Orleans reported a 36.3 percent drop compared to last July.
The Bell of Baton Rouge as usual was down double digits compared to the prior year, reporting a 28.6 percent year-to-year decline. But Hollywood and L’Auberge Baton Rouge both were up, lifting the market to a 4.9 percent increase, making Baton Rouge the only market in the state to post a year-over-year uptick.
Other than Harrah’s New Orleans, Louisiana’s casinos are housed in “riverboats” that never go anywhere, a vestige of the early days of legalized gambling in the state when the boats actually had to cruise.
In 2018, legislators gave property owners the ability to move slightly inland, in hopes that not having to maintain a multi-tiered boat would encourage them to invest in new amenities. The owners of Hollywood and the Isle of Capri in Lake Charles plan to take advantage of the opportunity.