Louisiana casinos post steep decline in August

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Every casino in Louisiana took in less money in August than during August 2019, according to the latest revenue report made public Thursday.

Every casino but one took in less money last month than the month before. Though the state’s casino sector has been in decline for years, some of the recent slippage can be attributed to weather-related closures and COVID-19-related restrictions and concerns, officials say.

Under Phase 2 of the White House-approved restrictions meant to control the spread of the new coronavirus, casinos have been limited to half of their normal capacity and 75 percent of their usual number of gaming positions. Wade Duty, executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, said many players have been reluctant to return since casinos reopened, especially older customers.

Though the state moved into Phase 3 earlier this month, the Phase 2 restrictions remain in place for casinos, which also must abide by new restrictions cutting off alcohol service statewide at 11 p.m. The initial Phase 3 order ended alcohol service at 10 p.m., but Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Thursday afternoon that he was tweaking his order following discussions with the Louisiana Restaurant Association.

“We are of the viewpoint that we did not move into Phase 3,” Duty told the Louisiana Gaming Control Board on Thursday. “We moved into Phase 1.75.”

Revenue for the state’s river-adjacent casinos was down about 31 percent in August compared to August 2019. All but two properties – both in Baton Rouge – were down by double digits.

Only the Eldorado resort in Shreveport, which was up 3.3 percent, made more money in August than in July.

The Harrah’s New Orleans land-based casino was down about 9 percent from July to August and about 49 percent year-over-year.