Louisiana casino sector’s slide continues

November was another slow month for Louisiana’s casino sector, which was struggling even before the COVID-19 pandemic and this year’s record-breaking hurricane season.

Diamond Jacks in Bossier City closed permanently in October. Hurricane Laura heavily damaged Isle of Capri Lake Charles, which has not reopened.

Those two closures contributed to a 23.6 percent revenue decline compared to November 2019, though only one operating property took in more money month-over-month. Margaritaville in Bossier City was up 7.9 percent, though the Shreveport/Bossier market still was down more than 25 percent.

The Lake Charles market was down 22.4 percent, while Baton Rouge was down 16 percent and the river-adjacent casinos in New Orleans were down 29.3 percent. Harrah’s land-based casino was down more than 43 percent.

Louisiana’s casinos were having trouble competing with those in neighboring states before the pandemic. Coronavirus restrictions currently limit the facilities to half of their normal capacity, and alcohol service must be cut off at 11 p.m.

Wade Duty, executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, has said many players have been reluctant to return since casinos reopened, especially older customers.

Most Louisiana parishes in November voted to legalize sports betting. The Louisiana Legislature will have to create the rules governing the practice, and advocates hope sports wagering will be an amenity that will attract new customers.

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