Louisiana casinos, racinos and other gaming facilities combined to have a bit of economic recovery in October compared to the numbers in September, but the facilities are still suffering compared to this time last year.
The state’s riverboat casinos — 13 were operating in October — had a total AGR (adjusted gross receipts) of $115.6 million for the month. That was up from $94.3 million in September but well off of the October 2019 revenue of nearly $137 million.
The top-earning riverboat casino in October was Golden Nugget Lake Charles, with nearly $22 million, followed by L’Auberge Lake Charles ($16.5 million) Margaritaville ($14.8M) and Horseshoe ($13.8M), according to numbers from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.
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The single land-based casino in the Bayou State, Harrah’s New Orleans, also ticked up slightly in October, with $13.9 million in Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) from $13.7 million in September. But the state was down nearly 40% compared to the $22.9 million in revenue from October 2019.
The racinos (racetracks with video slots) had a similar pattern. Delta Downs nearly doubled — from $5.8 million in September to $11.5 million in October — and that carried Louisiana racino revenue to a 26.5% rise, from $18 million to $22.7 million. That was at least fairly close to last year, just 10.8% down from the October 2019 figure of $25.46 million. Delta Downs was closed for the first half of September in the wake of damage from Hurricane Laura in late August.
The one area where Louisiana’s numbers bucked the overall trend compared to 2019 was video gaming (i.e. video poker). Machines at bars, restaurants, hotels, racetrack OTBs and truck stops recorded $54.6 million in October revenue, barely more than the $54.45 million in September. That October number was up 8.8% from October 2019 ($50.2 million). Almost all of that year-over-year gain came from the nearly 7,500 VGTs at Louisiana truck stops, where combine revenue rose from $35.58 million in October 2019 to $42.7 million last month.
The coronavirus pandemic shut down casinos around the country this spring and into summer. But that was far from the only bad news for Louisiana gaming facilities and for the state’s residents in a much broader sense.
Louisiana was hit especially hard during hurricane season this summer and into fall. First Hurricane Laura, then Hurricane Delta hit the state, and Lake Charles took heavy damage. That helped explain why the numbers in August fell off compared to the previous months when tracks, casinos and racinos were just reopening from the coronavirus-related shutdowns.
Help should be on the way for Louisiana gambling revenues but the timetable is uncertain. Voters in 55 of 64 of the state’s parishes approved a sports betting referendum on Nov. 3. The state legislature must still hammer out the rules and details when the body reconvenes in April.