Louisiana Casinos Post 9.2% Revenue Gain in AugustSeptember 22, 2018 10:56 am
Louisiana’s casino market experienced a choppy ride in 2017, but eventually generated $2.56 billion in revenue to close out the year with a 0.93% year-on-year gain. The state’s casino market has continued its roller coaster ride into 2018, and now the number of its positive and negative months is exactly even after generating $212 million in August, representing an impressive 9.2% improvement compared to the $194 million collected in the same month a year ago.
Louisiana was the country’s 4th largest casino market last year, and has a vast network of gambling venues consisting of 15 riverboat casinos, 4 racinos and one land-based Harrah’s casino located in New Orleans. Together they generated a combined $212 million in revenues last month, of which $160.2 million was accounted for by its riverboat operations, marking an 8.5% increase versus the $147.6 million reported a year ago.
In terms of the riverboats’ performances across the various markets, the Lake Charles area produced both the most revenue as well as biggest year-on-year growth with its business up by 16.5% at $64.1 million. Next highest was the Shreveport/Bossier area on $52.7 million (+7.4%), followed by New Orleans on $23.1 million (8.6%).
The Baton Rouge market consisting of L’Auberge Baton Rouge, Hollywood Casino and the Belle of Baton Rouge, on the other hand, saw its revenue plummet by 9.1% to $20.2 million, extending the region’s year-over-year losing streak to 13th-straight months.
Harrah’s is the only land-based casino in the whole of Louisiana, and last month the venue saw its business rise sharply by 7.5% to $22.9 million from the $21.3 million it collected in the same month a year ago. In the meantime, the state’s four racinos saw their revenue surge by 15% to $28.9 million during the month from the $25.1 million that they collected in August 2017.
The Pelican State passed casino gambling legislation in 1991, with Governor Buddy Roemer at the time promoting the industry as a much-needed way of generating extra tax revenues for state coffers. It wasn’t until 2001, however, that further legislation was adopted allowing river boats to offer their gambling services while docked in designated spots, rather than having to continually be in motion.
Nevertheless, the state’s laws have still been criticized for being too antiquated, and until May of this year all 15 riverboat casinos were required to restrict their operations to just cramped riverboats. This in turn ensured that they would not have the available space to expand their businesses and add other product and services that may help improve their revenues in the long run, including restaurants, hotel rooms, and retail shops.
Fortunately, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed Senate Bill 316 into law a few months back allowing riverboat casinos to make the transition onto land, albeit just 1,200 feet from their original designated berth spaces. Since then, at least three Louisiana riverboat casinos have expressed an interest in moving their venues onshore, although plenty of time will also be needed in order for them to build appropriate resorts that will help modernize and grow the state’s gaming and tourism market.
While things are beginning to slowly change in Louisiana, lawmakers in favor of further expansion have been warning that the state stands the risk of falling further behind its competitive neighbors. On August 1st, for instance, Mississippi became the nation’s fourth state to launch legal sports betting, and according to estimates it could stand to generate an additional $10 million in annual taxes. That figure may seem tiny, but sports wagering has also been touted as an important way in which to attract more customers to the state’s casinos, who will subsequently spend more money enjoying the other games and services that they have to offer.
By contrast, Louisiana recently rejected a bill that would have permitted instate sports betting, and may soon see its monthly revenues hit as a result. Commenting upon the situation, State Senator Danny Martiny (R-Metairie) said:
“But as usual we’re going to be two-years behind everyone else. Even Mississippi is way ahead of us on this. So in our quest to be number 50 in everything, here’s another one.”