Louisiana’s casinos and racinos had to survive a few months of closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as did facilities around the country.
Then just as business was ramping back up, August threw another hardship at the state’s gaming centers and the people who use them: Hurricane Laura.
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The 14 riverboat casinos in Louisiana took the sharpest drop compared to July among the four categories of state gaming. Riverboat casino revenue fell 17.4%, from $136,984,253 in July to $113,162,444 in August, according to figures submitted by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.
Both the Golden Nugget Casino and the L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles were closed for several days after sustaining damage when Hurricane Laura struck Louisiana on Aug. 27. Those two are the biggest drawing riverboat casinos in the state — both had a total Adjusted Gaming Revenue of more than $18 million in August despite having five or six fewer gaming days than some other facilities. The Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City was third in August with $13.2 million in AGR, down nearly $2 million from July.
In year-over-year numbers the riverboats’ AGR was 31.2% lower than August 2019, when it was $164,483,331. Not only have coronavirus recovery and hurricane closures (including lesser impact from the threat of Hurricane Marco) affected those numbers, but the Diamondjacks riverboat casino is no longer operating.
The Delta Downs Racetrack in Vinton was closed for nearly three weeks because of damage from the Category 4 storm; Delta Downs reopened Sept. 16. Delta Downs is by far the leader among the state’s four racinos (racetracks with slot machines). Even in a month where the facility’s total AGR was down 21.5% compared to July, the track in Vinton pulled in $11.76 million, about half of the $23.6 million total adjusted revenue at racinos.
As for the other two categories, video gaming revenue was down from $62.7 million in July to $53.5 million, a 14.7 drop; however, that August figure was 2.6% higher than August 2019. And the lone land-based Louisiana casino, Harrah’s New Orleans, fell 9.3% in Gross Gaming Revenue, to $11,792,041, from $12,994,739 in July. And the August figure was about half of the $23,300,568 in GGR from August 2019.
The casinos in New Orleans (combining all categories) saw revenues 36.3% lower than August 2019, the biggest drop of any market in the state according to NOLA.com, the website of the New Orleans Advocate and Times-Picayune. Louisiana casinos are still only operating at 50% capacity because of COVID-19 concerns, the report said.