Louisiana casinos see dip in revenue

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana’s state-licensed casinos, continuing to wade through the economic downturn like the counterparts in other states, recorded a 6.9 percent drop in gambling revenue last month from the previous October, state police reported Tuesday.

The 13 riverboat casinos, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.’s downtown New Orleans casino and the three race track casinos won $193.3 million from players in October. That’s down from $207.7 million in October 2008 — the month after the national economic meltdown began.

Last month, the riverboats won $132.1 million, the New Orleans casino won $30.7 million and the race track outlets took in $30.5 million.

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Still, it was a 2.8 increase from September when the casinos took in $188.1 million. And analysts have said that Louisiana casinos — even with a recession that has sharply cut discretionary spending — have fared much better than most states.

In New Jersey, where double-digit drops had become common, gambling winnings were down 6.5 percent in October, compared with October 2008. In Nevada, which also has been seeing double-digit drops, revenue was down 9 percent in a September-to-September comparison, while Mississippi recorded a 2.2 percent drop from September to September in a comeback from earlier in 2009. Those states have yet to report October figures.

Among the state’s casino markets:

— Shreveport Bossier City, the home of five floating casinos and the Louisiana Downs track casino, took in $58.6 million last month, down from $65.5 million. In addition to the slow economy, that region has been facing increasing competition for Texas gamblers from Oklahoma Indian reservation casinos.

— The other market dependent on Texas gamblers, Lake Charles, won $52.9 million last month, up from $47.8 million in October 2008 — a month when both southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana were still trying to overcome the September hurricanes.

— The New Orleans market, with two riverboats, the land casino and the Fair Grounds casino, won $54.5 million last month, down slightly from $56.5 million in October 2008.

— The two boats in Baton Rouge recorded $15.9 million in winnings, a sharp slide from $19.2 million in October 2008.

— The Evangeline Downs track casino at Opelousas won $7.6 million in October, down from $8.9 million in October 2008.

— The lone riverboat near Morgan City took an October slide: from $5.3 million last year to $3.8 million last month.

The figures do not include the three Indian reservation casinos in Louisiana, which are not required to report their winnings to the public.