Louisiana gaming revenue flat in 2018, Baton Rouge sees 17.4% drop

    Louisiana casino gaming revenue remained flat in 2018 at $2.56 billion, generating total tax revenue of $607.7 million, up 0.9% from the year prior, according to the American Gaming Association’s annual State of the States report released this morning.

    The Baton Rouge market, however, saw a steep 17.4% gaming-revenue decline last year—an outlier among other markets in the state—as the area’s riverboat casino earnings fell to $255.9 million, according to the AGA.

    The report notes the decline comes after Baton Rouge implemented a citywide smoking ban for bars and casinos in May 2018. But revenues at the three riverboat casinos in the area had been falling even before the smoking ban took effect.

    In other Louisiana markets, gaming revenues were either up or flat. Lake Charles saw the highest bump, with combined earnings of $939.7 million, up 4.5% in 2018. The New Orleans market also saw a slight 1% increase, with gaming revenue hitting $606.5 million. The Shreveport-Bossier area earnings were essentially flat, down just 0.3% to $677.1 million.

    The reason statewide gaming tax revenue rose while earnings remained the same, AGA reports, is because the higher-taxed racinos in Louisiana saw a stronger performance in 2018 than the lower-taxed riverboat casinos. Total earnings at the state’s four racinos were up 2.3% last year.

    The AGA report also notes that 2018 saw big changes approved in the Louisiana gaming industry, such as the 47 parishes that approved a ballot initiative legalizing fantasy sports betting and a new law allowing riverboat casinos to move on land.

    “In 2018, the state legislature passed a law that will allow riverboat casinos to move to larger, land- based facilities within close proximity of their original vessels,” the report notes. “Several properties have already expressed an interest in moving onshore after new regulations are finalized, likely in early 2019.”

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