Louisiana Casino Industry Needs Lawmakers to Get it Right Again
With casino gambling exploding in so many states, and sports betting emerging as a viable revenue source, the states who were the first to the table are finding out that it isn’t like the “old” days. At one time, Louisiana was one of the few states outside of Nevada or New Jersey to have casinos, but that isn’t the case anymore. They have been feeling the heat from competition all over, and as a result, growth has stopped.
For more than ten years, revenue generated from Louisiana’s casinos has steadily declined, and there has been a severe drop at some outlets. There are several in the state that are down more than 10% compared to the same point last year.
How Does The Louisiana Casino Industry Need Lawmakers to Get it Right?
Louisiana Economic Development recently commissioned a study from the respected Spectrum Gaming Group on how to address the problems that is facing the industry. The company made a number of recommendations, but indications are that lawmakers have been inflexible with regard to allowing for improvement of the atmosphere.
One of those recommendation was to legalize sports betting, like so many states have already done, or are about to. It is an issue of immediate concern, because casinos in neighboring Missouri have set up a number of sportsbooks already. What this does, especially on the weekends, is attract business away from major markets such as New Orleans, in effect making the Crescent City a principal feeder market for gaming establishments on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Louisiana casinos are also at a competitive disadvantage against Mississippi from the perspective of taxes. In fact, they pay almost twice the tax rate, according to Spectrum’s findings.
On the other side of the state, casinos in Shreveport and Bossier City have found themselves losing business to Oklahoma. They would like to move to other locales, but petty political opposition has prevented that.
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About Online Gambling In Lousiana
Internet gaming is another feature that might allow Louisiana to compete, and it has found favor with other states. It makes things more convenient for customers who are playing within a state’s boundaries. Yet, there is no indication that Louisiana will authorize this either.
And Spectrum has found that there is a direct correlation between indoor smoking bans and a considerable loss of revenue for the casinos in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the state capital.
Wade Duty, executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, points out that without having additional “ammunition” at their disposal, the Louisiana casinos are way behind the times. “It makes it difficult to compete when you’ve got a product that is still pretty much in the same format as when we began gaming 25 years ago,” he says.
What is incredible about all of this is that the casinos play such a huge role in covering the state’s budget, bringing in about $700 million themselves.
The dilemma the casinos face makes it hard for them to justify any kind of new investment, which might inject some life into the industry. The companies who own these casinos invariably have financial interests in similar properties elsewhere, and it only makes logical sense that they will direct those resources toward a more business-friendly environment.
It seems a shame that a city like New Orleans, so dependent upon tourism, would find its local casinos so boxed in, when they supply a meaningful component of that tourism formula. But if the findings of Spectrum are accurate, there isn’t enough consideration being given to businesses in any of Louisiana’s municipalities. They need to understand that there won’t be any more water in the trough after a while, and that will eventually put all of them in a pickle, to be sure.