Losses continue in May for Baton Rouge riverboat casinos

    Baton Rouge’s three riverboat casinos continue to see revenues drop, as the market logged its 21st consecutive month for year-over-year losses in May.

    Collectively, L’Auberge Baton Rouge, Hollywood Casino and the Belle of Baton Rouge brought in $20.5 million last month, a 14% drop compared to May 2018, according to the latest report from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

    Belle of Baton Rouge led the market with the highest losses, collecting only $2.6 million—a 46.5% drop from last May. Hollywood Casino collected $4.7 million, posing a nearly 13% decrease, while L’Auberge collected some $13 million, a 3% decrease from last year.

    The Belle faces a plethora of challenges, as does each of the Baton Rouge casinos, says Jim Rigot, the Belle’s general manager since January. As the Belle marks its 25th year in Baton Rouge, its property is older than its competitors, and the smoking ban—which went into effect last summer—has also hurt the casino. Rigot estimates the ban alone caused a 13% hit on the Baton Rouge market.

    Some of the hurt has been self-inflicted though. In an effort to lower expenses, the Belle changed its marketing strategy and stopped giving freebies—such as drinks and hotel rooms—to what Rigot calls its “non-profitable customers.” Rigot declined to share how much has been cut from marketing, but says its in the millions.

    Another blow to the market is Mississippi’s legalization of sports betting, which Rigot stresses was a lost opportunity for Louisiana, which saw a 3% drop in statewide casino collections last month with $160 million. Lake Charles remains the state’s highest collecting market.

    “Customers choose with their feet—they don’t have to come here,” Rigot says. “They can go to Mississippi and make a weekend out of it. We lost out, and we lost out big time. It’s a shame.”

    Read the full market report.

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