While 2021 set a national record for casino revenue, state-regulated gambling halls in Louisiana brought in less money last year than before the pandemic.
Harrah’s 19 riverboats, racinos and land-based casino brought in $2.38 billion in 2021, up 43.5% from 2020 but down 3.2% from 2019.
The drop in revenue from 2019 was blamed on the impact of hurricanes, according to the American Gaming Association. In August 2020, Hurricane Laura unmoored the gambling barge on the island of Capri Lake Charles and significantly damaged the land facility the casino was moving into. The casino has since closed.
Hurricane Ida shut down New Orleans and Baton Rouge area casinos for several days in August and September.
Along with the temporary closure of the Isle of Capri, DiamondJacks in Bossier City was not open at all in 2021. The struggling property announced in May 2020 that it would not reopen after being closed due to the pandemic . But while the island is set to reopen by the end of the year as Horseshoe Casino Lake Charles, the future of DiamondJacks is unknown. An attempt to move the casino was flatly rejected by voters in St. Tammany Parish.
Matt Roob, senior vice president of analysis for Spectrum Gaming Group, which analyzed the state’s gambling market for Louisiana’s economic development in 2019, said other factors could have driven the decline in casino winnings from pre-pandemic levels.
For one, video poker winnings, which are not counted in the gambling association’s report, soared by more than $200 million from 2019 to 2021, an increase of 34.5% . Video poker machines brought in $839.2 million in 2021, down from $623.8 million.
The increase came despite the number of video poker machines dropping from 12,903 at the end of 2019 to 12,072 at the end of 2021.
“People can change their game and stay closer to home,” Roob said. “They may still be concerned about their exit into the pandemic world.”
The other factor in the revenue decline could be the maturing of the Mississippi sports betting market, Roob said. Sports betting on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was relatively new in 2019, but by 2021 it was more established. Mississippi generated a record $65.9 million in sports betting revenue in 2021. The first sports betting at regulated Louisiana casinos did not open until Halloween 2021.
“People may have gotten used to sports betting and moved their game to Mississippi,” Roob said.
The gambling association released its annual State of the States Report last week, examining the performance of gambling across the country.
As previously reported, nationwide casino revenues hit a record high in 2021 at $53.03 billion, up 21% from the previous best year, 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic hit. struck.
Commercial casinos paid a record $11.69 billion in direct gambling tax revenue to states and local governments in 2021. This represents an increase of 75% from 2020 and 15% from 2019. That does not include the additional billions paid in income, sales and other taxes, the association says.
The report also ranked the largest markets in the United States by revenue for 2021. Naturally, the Las Vegas Strip was the uncontrollable leader, with $7.05 billion in revenue. Atlantic City, New Jersey, was second with $2.57 billion. In third and fourth place were two major metropolitan areas that recently legalized sports betting: Chicago with $2.01 billion and Baltimore-Washington, DC with $2 billion. The 12 casinos on the Mississippi Gulf Coast brought in $1.61 billion in 2021.
Gulf Coast casinos also set a revenue record in 2021, despite closures caused by Ida. The gambling association said the properties saw their winnings increase by more than 20% compared to 2019. This was the strongest growth of any casino market. The Tunica/Lula market saw the second-largest growth from pre-pandemic levels, increasing by more than 15%. The seven casinos brought in $1.09 billion, the best year for the market since 2013.
The group reported that many states have seen gamblers spend more at casinos while visiting them in fewer numbers than before the pandemic in 2019.
The average age of a casino customer last year was 43½, up from 49½ in 2019.
Americans bet $57.7 billion on sports last year, more than double the amount in 2020. This generated $4.33 billion in revenue, an increase of nearly 180% over 2020.