The COVID-19 pandemic has already wreaked havoc on the casino industry in Louisiana in 2020, but now Mother Nature is affecting business. Casinos and racetracks throughout the state are closing due to the hurricanes traveling through the state this week.
Most of the massive destruction occurred on August 27, but several properties were closed down days in advance as they prepared for the storm. Damage to casinos and racetracks will force these properties to make repairs, and it could keep some closed for weeks.
The Lake Charles area of Louisiana was hit extremely hard by Hurricane Laura, and the four casinos in that part of the state were closed on Friday. All of the casinos have stated that there is no reopening date set, as each property is trying to evaluate the damage.
The Isle of Capri riverboat Casino broke free on Thursday, and it had to be returned by rescue personnel. The casino shut down before the hurricane hit, but it is unclear how long it will take before the business is ready to open to guests. Some estimates have the repairs taking upwards to nine months.
Louisiana is staring at a huge budget deficit in part due to the casino industry being shut down during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Casinos have been able to reopen, but now the industry will be operating in a limited capacity.
Multiple Storms Bring Heavy Winds
A pair of massive storms were expected to make landfall in Louisiana, but Hurricane Laura did the most damage. Even though Hurricane Laura appeared to fizzle out before reaching the state, there were still some damaging heavy winds.
Wind speeds were recorded at more than 150 miles per hour, and the storm left some areas completely destroyed. The state reports that at least ten people were killed from the storm, and hundreds more are without power.
The Lake Charles area had a BioLab plant catch fire due to a chemical leak, which burned throughout the night. Water levels did not do as much damage as expected, which will likely allow the state to recover much quicker.
Still, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that it was the most powerful hurricane ever to strike the state, but the damage was far less than Hurricane Katrina’s destruction. Power and the main water supply was restored as early as Friday morning for almost the entire state.
Sports Betting Vote Set For November
As the casino industry is currently at a stand-still throughout Louisiana, that could put extra focus on the sports betting industry. Voters in Louisiana will have an important decision to make in November, and it could have substantial financial impacts based on the outcome.
Each parish (county) throughout the state of Louisiana will vote to legalize sports betting in November, and experts are predicting that it will be an extremely tight race. State lawmakers are willing to let the residents of each parish decide if they want to legalize sports betting in their respective areas.
This same process took place about Daily Fantasy Sports, and the state was split on their thinking. Almost 75 percent of parishes voted to legalize sports betting, but lawmakers could not create laws and regulations for the industry.
If voters in a parish do favor legalizing sports betting, lawmakers will have to create regulations for the industry in 2021. The casino industry supports this measure, and the state is hoping to create new revenue by legalizing sports betting.