Hurricanes, Not COVID-19 Shutting Down Louisiana Casinos

The state of Louisiana has already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the casino industry. This week those properties are faced with a new challenge as Hurricane Delta is bearing down on the region.

The four resort casinos in the Lake Charles area were forced to shut down on Thursday as the area braces for the impact of Hurricane Delta. Hurricane Laura already damaged all four properties in August, and each casino was hoping to get through the tropical storm unscathed this time.

Delta Downs Racetrack in Vinton was one of the properties that announced a closure on Thursday. This property is right on the border of Texas and Louisiana. The Golden Nugget, L’Auberge, and the Isle of Capri were also shut down on Thursday as the region braces for another tropical storm.

The hurricane was not expected to make landfall until some point on Friday, but each property was looking to get ahead of the storm. Hurricane Delta will become the 10th tropical storm to make landfall in 2020, which will set a new record, and will continue to ruin the casino industry in Louisiana.

After dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, casinos in the Louisiana hoped to avoid any more setbacks. The entire state is suffering financially from the pandemic, and the casino industry cannot provide relief when being shut down by a tropical storm.

Huge Year For Hurricanes

The National Weather Service has already run out of names for the tropical storms this season, forcing it to turn to letters of the Greek Alphabet. Hurricane Delta set a new record for the United States in the number of tropical storms to make landfall.

The Lake Charles area was already hit hard by Hurricane Laura and more than 6,000 residents remain homeless from that storm. Hurricane Laura caused major damage to the casinos in the area, and that is once again affecting revenue throughout the state.

Alabama has also seen significant damage during the ongoing hurricane season, and that has affected casino revenue in the state of Louisiana. Hurricane Sally caused a pair of riverboat casinos in Alabama to break free from the port and caused significant damage to both properties.

Louisiana is prepared to deal with the hurricane season each year, but the casinos simply cannot afford to be shut down again. With gross gaming revenue taking a huge hit during the peak COVID-19 months, the fall was supposed to provide some relief.

Will Sports Betting Be Passed?

Lawmakers throughout the state of Louisiana have been looking to legalize the sports betting industry, but the process has been extremely complicated. Voters will get to have their say this November, but the final decision will not be a state-wide issue.

The choice to allow sports betting will be left up to each parish in the state of Louisiana, and lawmakers expect the decision to be split. Voters were also faced with a similar decision regarding Daily Fantasy Sports just a few years ago, and the vote was not unanimous statewide.

Lawmakers are willing to allow each parish to decide whether or not they wish to legalize sports betting in their region. The parishes that have casinos are expected to pass the referendum, while other parts of the state are expected to vote no.

For those parishes that do approve the sports betting referendum, this doesn’t mean that sports betting will be legalized right away. Lawmakers in the state will have to continue to meet and draw up rules and regulations for the new industry.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.