Louisiana Casino Winnings Decline At End of Hurricane Season, During COVID-19

Posted on: December 18, 2020, 02:42h. 

Last updated on: December 18, 2020, 04:26h.

Casino revenue in Louisiana fell by double digits in November 2020 when compared to the same month last year.

Isle of Capri Lake Charles
The Isle of Capri riverboat casino, seen here, struck a bridge in Louisiana during a hurricane in August. The casino is not expected to reopen in Lake Charles until 2022. (Image: The Advocate)

Casinos in the New Orleans area reported $50.8 million in winnings in November 2019, but just $32.3 million this November. That’s a 36.5 percent decline, according to The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge.

Harrah’s New Orleans, the state’s only land-based casino, reported winning $26.1 million in November 2019. Gaming revenue at the resort this November was $14.7 million, a falloff of 43.5 percent. Harrah’s recently announced an upcoming name change to Caesars New Orleans and a $325 million renovation.

Gaming revenue at the three riverboat casinos in the New Orleans area saw a 29.3 percent drop in the November month-to-month comparison. Casino winnings went from $20.8 million in November 2019 to $14.7 million this November.

In Baton Rouge, casino revenue at the capital city’s three riverboats declined by 16 percent. The casinos reported revenue of $18.8 million in November 2019, compared to $15.8 million last month. Even with this decline, Baton Rouge outperformed the other gaming markets in the Bayou State.

Winnings in Lake Charles fell 22.2 percent. Casinos in the area reported revenue of $74 million in November 2019, compared to $57.5 million last month. Lake Charles is in southwestern Louisiana near the Texas border.

Hurricane Recovery

With COVID-19 restrictions and a destructive hurricane season, the Louisiana casino market had a difficult summer and fall. State health restrictions limit casinos to 50 percent capacity.

The hurricane season was especially active along the Gulf Coast through October. Rebuilding efforts are continuing in some areas along the coast.

In total, the state’s casinos had winnings of $151.8 million this year in November. That compares to $204.7 million in November 2019, a decline of 25.9 percent statewide, according to The Advocate.

During the summer and early fall, hurricanes and tropical storms clobbered the Louisiana Gulf Coast, leading to temporary casino closures in the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lake Charles areas.

Lake Charles was hard hit, with two major hurricanes shredding the area, one in late August and another in October.

The Isle of Capri riverboat casino, which came unmoored and struck a bridge during Hurricane Laura in August, still has not reopened in Lake Charles. Its owner, Nevada-based Caesars Entertainment, has said the casino probably won’t be in operation again until 2022. The company expects to furlough 336 employees starting Feb. 1, according to The Advocate.

The hurricane season officially ended Nov. 30.

Sports Betting on Horizon

During the next legislative session in April, lawmakers will begin crafting guidelines to regulate and tax the sports-betting industry in Louisiana.

In November, voters in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes approved sports betting within the boundaries of their parish. In Louisiana, counties are called parishes.

The measure passed by wide margins in the parishes where New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, and Shreveport-Bossier City are located.

Legislators in the spring also will have to decide whether sports betting will be limited to in-person bets placed inside casinos, or also on mobile devices, such as smartphones.

With these issues still to be ironed out, legal sports betting probably won’t take place in Louisiana until 2020, authorities said.