Louisiana’s casinos and racinos entered 2021 with a bounce, as January’s overall state gaming revenue rose 9% compared to December 2020.
With all video gaming, riverboat casinos, racinos (slots at racetracks) and one land-based casino combined, Louisiana gambling revenues added up to $235.8 million in the first month of the new year, a rise of nearly $20 million from the $216.4 million in December 2020.
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The biggest month-to-month increase was at racinos, which registered $27.135 million in January revenue, 15.7% higher than the $23.457 million in December 2020, according to figures posted on Thursday by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. And the year-over-year figures have nearly caught up – the January 2021 revenue was just 1.6% lower than 12 months earlier, when it was $27.574 million.
The state’s video poker terminals raked in $61.26 million in revenue for January, with machines at truck stops especially continuing their rising popularity. Those devices, nearly 7,500 statewide, took in $47.7 million in revenue, 12% higher than December’s $42.4 million and nearly 30% higher than January 2020 ($36.8M). Overall, the state’s 12,000-plus video terminals (also including those at bars, restaurants, hotels and racetracks) have seen a 17.6% increase in revenue year-over-year.
Riverboat casinos saw an increase of nearly 9%, from $121.9 million in December revenue to $132.57 million in January. The two state leaders, both in Lake Charles — Golden Nugget and L’Auberge — each had adjusted gross revenue (AGR) figures exceeding $25 million for January. Revenue at riverboat casinos was still off by 7.9% compared to January 2020 ($144 million).
The only category of Louisiana gaming that declined in January was land-based revenue at the Harrah’s New Orleans Casino. The facility drew $14.85 million, down 10.1% from December’s total of $16.51 million.
The state is still recovering from a brutal 2020. Hurricanes damaged much of the state including casinos, plus the coronavirus pandemic shut down casinos in Louisiana and all over the country.
Having sports betting — both retail and especially online — would undoubtedly help Louisiana’s tax coffers. That process is underway after voters in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes approved of sports betting in a November 2020 referendum. But the actual implementation is probably a long way off.
Louisiana’s lawmakers must consider rules and the structure for sports betting and the legislature does not even convene until April. The state took about two years to approve rules for fantasy sports. And it has been rare for any state to take less than nine months to complete the process of completing sports betting regulations and actually offering wagers on events. So it seems that 2022 is the most likely starting point for Louisiana sports betting going live.
The good news is, once sports betting is implemented, it will be available for anyone interested in Louisiana. Even folks in the nine parishes that rejected the practice at the ballot box simply need to travel to a parish that has sports betting to place a wager.