Louisiana’s casinos won 25 percent more this July than one year earlier, which was during the coronavirus pandemic’s first summer surge.
This year in July, the state’s casinos won $222 million, compared to $177.6 million in July 2020, according to the New Orleans website nola.com. Last year, casino capacity was capped at 50 percent. There are no capacity limits now.
The July casino win is slightly higher than June’s total this year of $221.6 million.
Louisiana is home to 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos — horse tracks with video slot machines.
In New Orleans, the Harrah’s land-based casino, three riverboat casinos, and one horse track in the area brought in more than $55.1 million in gaming revenue in July. That’s a 46 percent in increase over the $35.7 million win total in July 2020. Coronavirus infections had begun to surge a few months earlier in March 2020.
The largest percentage increase this July came at the Eldorado Resort Casino, a riverboat on the Red River in Shreveport. The casino won $11.3 million in July, a 101.2 percent increase over last July’s $5.6 million win total. The riverboat casinos in Shreveport were in the news recently regarding a casino smoking ban that took effect on Aug. 1. Shreveport is in the boot-shaped state’s northwest corner.
The only property that experienced a dip in revenue in July was the Belle of Baton Rouge. The riverboat casino is on the Mississippi near downtown Baton Rouge in South Louisiana. Its July revenue of $1.5 million this year was down 2.3 percent from last year’s total of just more than $1.5 million.
Casinos Move Ashore
Last year, in August and into the fall, several deadly hurricanes slammed into Louisiana, damaging homes and businesses, including casinos.
In Lake Charles, the Isle of Capri came unmoored during a major hurricane and became wedged in the I-10 bridge. No one was injured. The casino now is being transformed from a riverboat property into a land-based resort. It is scheduled to open next year as the Horseshoe Casino Lake Charles.
East of there in Baton Rouge, the Hollywood Casino has become the first riverboat in the capital city to begin moving ashore. Construction on Hollywood’s land-based site is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
When riverboat casinos were first authorized in Louisiana during the early 1990s, the boats were required to journey into open water away from the port. That was changed in 2001 to permit the riverboats to remain docked. In 2018, the law was adjusted to allow riverboats to be scrapped in favor of land-based operations.
Another riverboat casino, the Treasure Chest at Lake Pontchartrain, also is expected to move its operations onto land. The Treasure Chest is in Kenner, northwest of downtown New Orleans.
Vaccine, Negative Test Required
As the state experienced higher casino win totals in July, a surge in coronavirus cases, coupled with low vaccination rates, forced changes in August for large gatherings in New Orleans.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell this month issued a mandate requiring proof of vaccinations or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter indoor venues. These venues include the city’s racetrack, land-based casino, and Caesars Superdome. Enforcement began on Monday, Aug. 23.
Last month, the New Orleans mayor reinstated the city’s mask mandate, which had been in place for almost a year during the coronavirus’ first three waves.
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