State gambling revenues continue upward climb

Gamblers left behind USD 213.9 million at Louisiana’s state-licensed casinos in April, a big jump from the USD 189.4 million lost in April 2005, state police reported today.

Continuing a trend of more gambling since hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year, the 12 operating riverboats won USD 151.2 million, up from USD 129 million in April 2005 — despite the fact that two more outlets were open a year ago.

Just after hitting an all-time high of USD 33.7 million in winnings in March, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.’s downtown casino in New Orleans followed up with USD 31.2 million last month. In April 2005, the casino won USD 29.8 million.

The slot machine casinos at three Louisiana race tracks — Evangeline Downs, Delta Downs and Louisiana Downs — pulled in USD 31.2 million in April, up from USD 29.8 million in April 2005.

The state is currently without three of its authorized 15 riverboat casinos. Columbia Sussex Corp. is trying to move the Belle of Orleans in New Orleans to St. Mary Parish. Harrah’s has said it will not reopen its two riverboat casinos in Lake Charles, which were heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

In May 2005, Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. opened its L’Auberge Du Lac riverboat casino resort in Lake Charles, which has been a hit with gamblers. Last month, that casino won USD 26.9 million — tops among riverboats and second only to the New Orleans land casino.

Analysts have said the boost in Louisiana wagering likely is due to hurricane disruption of the Mississippi Gulf Coast casino market, along with large numbers of out-of-state workers in Louisiana for hurricane recovery efforts.

The figures do not include the three Indian reservation casinos in Louisiana, which are not required to provide their revenue figures publicly.