The 2020 financial figures for Louisiana gaming facilities reflected a turbulent year for casinos and racinos in the state.
A year full of casino closures because of COVID-19 and hurricanes also saw a new sports betting law approved at the ballot box. Sports betting won’t come to Louisiana anytime soon but voters in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes approved of the measure, so there’s plenty of reason to think that the gaming picture in Louisiana will be brighter in 2021.
As for December, the Louisiana gaming facilities – video terminals, riverboat casinos, land-based casino and racinos (racetracks with slot machines) — combined for $216,373,269 in revenue, up 5.7% from the $204,724,140 they took in for November.
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Halfway through the 2020-21 fiscal year, the gross gaming revenue (GGR) at the state’s lone land-based casino, Harrah’s New Orleans, was off 42 percent compared to the same time frame the previous year, dropping from $143.2 million in July through December 2019 to $83.7 million for the second half of the 2020 calendar year, according to numbers from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.
Revenues were also down at other types of gaming facilities, just not quite as dramatically. Total adjusted gaming revenue at the state’s riverboat casinos was down 22 percent, from $892.6 million in July-December of 2019 to $696.7 million for the latter half of 2020. At the four Louisiana racinos, the total AGR was $137.8 million for the final six months of 2020, down 18% from the same period in 2019, when the combined AGR was $167.5 million.
There was some good news for the Louisiana gaming industry in December as all four segments saw a rise in revenue from November to December. Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) drew $54,498,613 in net dev revenue for December 2020, up 3.0% from November and 2.4% higher than December 2019.
Even better, the total NDR for 2020 was $332.6 million, up 9.1% from the $305 million in 2019. Casino capacity is at 50% because the state is still trying to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic so it isn’t surprising that the one segment of Louisiana gaming not affected by capacity limits would be the one growing compared to 2019.
Riverboat casinos rose 6.3% to $121.9 million in December, the New Orleans land-based casino increased 12.0% to $16.5 million and racinos improved by 4.7% to $23.5 million in month-over-month numbers.
After delays stretching more than two years since fantasy sports was approved by Louisiana voters in 47 parishes, the LGCB took an important step toward making fantasy sports a reality in the state.
On Jan. 21, the board said potential operators can start applying for licenses in February, according to an Associated Press story. The fantasy sports operators could be up and running in Louisiana.
According to the AP story, Maj. Chuck McNeal, with the Louisiana State Police’s Gaming Enforcement Division, said fantasy sports operators can begin applying on Feb. 19. Voters in all but 17 of the state’s 64 parishes approved a fantasy sports ballot measure in November 2018. Anybody not living in a parish with legal online fantasy sports can simply travel to a parish where it was approved to play.
Meanwhile, a sports betting measure was approved in 55 parishes in November 2020 but it will be a while before the practice is implemented in the Bayou State.