Louisiana Riverboat Casino Revenue Down in July But VGTs Up
Louisiana’s riverboat casinos, which represent the largest share of gaming revenue in the state, had a revenue decline of 10% in July compared to the same month in 2019.
However, revenue at the state’s 12,700 video gaming devices was up 25.5% compared to July of last year. That was one piece of good news for Louisiana’s coffers in a month when revenue at the state’s lone land-based casino fell more dramatically and racetrack slot machines declined slightly.
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Casinos and other forms of gaming in Louisiana are fully back underway after being closed for months in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which shuttered casinos all over the country.
Gaming operations in New Orleans were down 20% in July in a year-over-year comparison, according to NOLA.com, the website of the combined Times/Picayune and New Orleans Advocate operation.
Louisiana Gaming Rides High at VGTs
The rise in Louisiana video gaming happened despite the fact that, according to NOLA.com, Gov. John Bel Edwards and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered bars to shut down in July as a preventative measure to fight COVID-19.
The state’s VGTs drew $62,664,240 of revenue last month, up 25.5% from the $49,928,726 in July 2019. Revenue from machines at bars and restaurants was down by more than 50%, but a 42% spike at truck stops — which have 7,529 machines, more than half of the state total — and a 37.6% rise at racetrack OTBs helped make up for it, accounting for the overall increase.
The 14 riverboat casinos operating in Louisiana combined for $136,984,253 of revenue in July, according to Louisiana Gaming Control Board’s monthly report. That was down 10.3% from the $152,729,319 recorded in July 2019.
The biggest winner among riverboat casinos in July was L’Auberge Baton Rouge, where the revenue spiked by more than $1.45 million in a year-over-year comparison, from $11.5 million to $13 million. The highest gainer in percentage, and nearly in total revenue increase, was Boomtown New Orleans. There, the July figure was nearly $10 million, 13.5% higher than the $8.8 million in July 2019.
For total revenue, Golden Nugget Lake Charles led the state with $27.6 million in July, down 1.2% from the same time last year.
One riverboat facility, DiamondJacks Casino & Hotel in Bossier City, has closed permanently, according to the NOLA.com report.
The state’s only land-based casino, Harrah’s New Orleans, saw a drop of 36.3% compared to July 2019, from $20.4 million to $13 million.
Racinos Down Just Slightly in July
Louisiana’s four racinos, or racetracks with slot machines, combined for $27,645,635 in July, down 5.2% from July 2019. The racino leader by far was Delta Downs in Vinton, with $14,977,349, just a 1.6% decrease compared to last year.
This year is interesting in Louisiana for the gaming industry. Bel Edwards signed a daily fantasy sports bill in July, finally setting in motion a DFS wagering mechanism that the state's voters approved in 2018. And a sports betting referendum will greet voters in November. Each parish must vote on the measure individually.
The last full month before the pandemic was February. From then until March, when gaming facilities began closing, Louisiana saw a 53% percent decline in gaming revenue.
Jim Tomlin has more than 30 years of experience in sports journalism as an editor and writer. He has covered pro and college sports from football, baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, motorsports and more for publications such as the Tampa Bay Times, SaturdayDownSouth.com, SaturdayTradition.com and FanRag Sports. He now lends his expertise to TopUSCasinos.com, among other duties.