For the first time in state history, all 20 casinos will be closed for at least two weeks, upon orders today from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board and Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Ronnie Jones, chairman of the gaming board, says he made the decision after consulting with the governor’s office throughout the weekend.
Jones says they estimate the state will lose $1.5 million a day, or $22 million over two weeks, based on the latest three-year averages. That doesn’t include the tax revenue loss to local governments, or to the businesses themselves.
“That’s a huge hit, particularly with the price of oil dropping,” Jones says. “People are out of work, they may not get paid.”
The move was quickly followed by the governor’s announcement to close all bars and movie theaters and limit restaurants to delivery and drive-thru orders only.
All of those closures will take effect at midnight. The casino closure will remain in effect for at least 14 days, but could be extended beyond that. However, the governor’s proclamation currently extends through April 13.
L’Auberge Casino and Hotel plans to shut down its entire property in Baton Rouge—the casino, hotel and restaurant—as a result of the latest announcements, L’Auberge spokesperson Kimberly Ginns says.
The total impact of those closures is yet to be determined, she says.
“As for our nearly 4,500 team members in Louisiana who will be impacted by this temporary closure, we plan to continue to pay their wages and benefits for the two-week period,” says Jay Snowden, president and CEO of L’Auberge’s parent company, Penn National Gaming.
Officials with the Belle of Baton Rouge and Hollywood Casino couldn’t be reached for comment before this afternoon’s deadline.
Jones also notes the riverboats and casinos spend millions on local goods and services.
“It’s a ripple effect that’s going to be huge for the state as we work through this,” Jones says. “But at the end of the day, you just have to air on the side of protecting public health.”
He hopes these measures will have a positive impact on slowing the rate of infection.
With the added bar closures and restaurant limits, that impact will be even larger.
The board notified casino managers of the pending closure this morning, giving them the necessary eight to 10 hours needed to shut down operations. None of them pushed back against the decision, Jones says.