Casino Winnings Decline in Louisiana Amid Hurricane, COVID-19 Setbacks

Posted on: December 4, 2020, 12:37h. 

Last updated on: December 4, 2020, 01:26h.

Destructive hurricanes and the coronavirus pandemic led to a falloff in recent casino winnings in Louisiana.

Isle of Capri Lake Charles
The Isle of Capri riverboat casino, seen here, rests against a bridge it struck during a hurricane in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in August. No one was injured in the riverboat incident. (Image: The Advocate)

Casino gaming revenue fell 17.8% in the Bayou State in October 2020 compared to the same month last year. That’s according to the latest figures from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

This percentage represents the falloff in winnings at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino in New Orleans and at the state’s 14 riverboats and four racinos, according to The Advocate newspaper. Harrah’s is a land-based casino.

Combined, these properties won $152.3 million in October 2020, down from $185.2 million in October 2019.

One of three riverboat casinos in Baton Rouge saw a 7.3% increase during this period. L’Auberge Baton Rouge won $12.9 million in October 2020, up from $12 million a year earlier. L’Auberge is a Penn National Gaming property.

The New Orleans and Lake Charles markets saw a large percentage drop in gaming winnings. Casinos in both areas were closed for several days during hurricanes.

Gaming revenue was off in New Orleans by 31.8%, from $47.7 million in October 2019 to $32.5 million last October. Lake Charles went from $62.7 million in gaming revenue in October 2019 to $49.9 million last October, a decline of 20.4%.

Lake Charles Casino Still Closed

The Isle of Capri riverboat casino, damaged last summer in a hurricane, had not reopened by Friday, according to Lt. Robert Fontenot of the Louisiana State Police. The riverboat is located in Lake Charles in Southwestern Louisiana, near the Texas border.

The Isle of Capri riverboat casino came unmoored during Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27 and struck a bridge. A tugboat returned the floating casino to its original location a short time later. No one was injured in the incident.

According to some media accounts, the Isle of Capri will be closed until sometime in 2021. Fontenot told on Friday it is unclear when the casino will begin operating again, and currently does not have a reopening date. The Isle of Capri is owned by Caesars Entertainment.

Hurricane Laura was one of five hurricanes or tropical storms to hit  Louisiana this year. Laura was a Category 4 storm, with top winds of 150 mph, when it struck Lake Charles and surrounding areas. The hurricane killed more than 30 people in the region and destroyed homes and businesses.

Six weeks later, Hurricane Delta roared ashore only about 12 miles east of where Laura made landfall. A Category 2 hurricane, Delta pummeled the storm-weary region with winds topping 100 mph.

This year’s hurricane season ended on Nov. 30. Even so, meteorologists have warned that additional storms could develop in what already has been a record-breaking year.

Sports Betting By 2022

A sports-betting measure on the Election Day ballot in Louisiana received widespread approval. Residents in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes voted to allow sports wagering within their parish.

The nine parishes that rejected the measure mostly are in the north-central part of the state. The proposal won overwhelmingly in the parishes that are home to Louisiana’s largest cities, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

When the Legislature next meets in April, lawmakers will determine taxation and licensing issues. Legislators also will have to decide whether to limit sports betting to the inside of casinos, or also allow it on electronic devices, such as smartphones.

Legal sports betting probably won’t take place in Louisiana until 2022, authorities said.