COVID-19 and winter weather caused casinos in the state of Louisiana to see a large drop in gaming revenues for February. The 13 riverboats, four racinos, and one land-based casino venue earned just over $151 million based on figures provided by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. This is a 28.9% decrease from earnings in February 2020.
The decrease comes at a time when the state is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions have been loosened somewhat in the state, but casinos are still requiring everyone to wear a mask and social distance while on-site.
The Revenue Figures
It is important to note that February 2020 was the last full month before the pandemic hit the nation. The figures will be slightly different this year due to the lack of tourism now due to the pandemic. There are also two fewer riverboats in operation this year than last year.
The Isle of Capri was damaged during a hurricane and has not reopened. The DiamondJacks riverboat casino was closed last May. This past February, many of the riverboats shut down for a short time due to the severe winter weather.
Huge Hit in New Orleans
For the state’s gaming market, it was New Orleans that took the biggest hit. Casino revenues dropped by more than 34% last month when compared to the previous month. Only $36.1 million was generated, which is a long way from the $55.2 million generated last year.
The Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans is the only land-based casino in the state. Unfortunately for the venue, revenues dropped by 40%. The casino earned only $15.8 million which was a far cry from the $26.6 million from 2020.
New Orleans is also home to riverboat casinos. The Treasure Chest saw the largest drop at over 35%. The casino brought in only just over $6 million, way under the more than $9 million in February 2020. Overall, riverboat casino earnings in New Orleans were down more than 27%.
One reason the New Orleans area saw such a decrease was due to the cancellation of Mardi Gras. Because of the pandemic, the residents in the city were encouraged to decorate their homes and look for new ways to celebrate. There was even a virtual parade available via an app that people could check out.
In general, the Mardi Gras holiday attracts around one million people, with many enjoying the local casinos and other forms of entertainment.
This week, Governor John Bel Edwards decided to lift certain capacity restrictions on restaurants and bars in the state. However, the mask mandate and social distancing requirements are still in place. The public health emergency order remains in place in all businesses. Casinos must ensure that everyone is wearing a mask and social distancing.
The order stays in effect through April 28. Limitations on bars and restaurants involving alcohol service have been lifted, which should help pick up business in casinos. Overall, the restrictions are somewhat unchanged, so it will be interesting to see how the venues fare going into April and beyond.