Baton Rouge casinos see slump in revenues, industry anxiously awaiting vaccine rollout

Baton Rouge casinos see slump in revenues, industry anxiously awaiting vaccine rollout
The Belle of Baton Rouge Casino (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Caroll Chatellier is finally getting the chance to do something she hasn’t done in months: roll the dice.

“This is our first time back since Covid started,” Chatellier said. “We’re coming to celebrate a birthday.”

Chatellier has stayed away from casinos largely because of the virus.

RELATED: Baton Rouge area restaurants reassessing outside dining during winter

“I mean we’re just stayed away trying to be good,” she said.

While gamers are starting to come back, revenues are in a slump at casinos across the state as coronavirus restrictions remain in place.

The three riverboats all reported revenues were down in October compared to September.

For the month of October, both the Belle of Baton Rouge and Hollywood Casino reported losses compared to October 2019. The Belle seeing the most significant drop, down 39.1% from the same month last year, Hollywood was down 3%. Meanwhile, L’Auberge actually saw an increase of nearly 7.3% from the same month last year. A source within the gaming industry in Baton Rouge told WAFB it is likely pulling table gamers from the Belle which has not opened its tables and pulling in the gamblers Hollywood has lost during the pandemic.

“It’s a struggle every day,” said Wade Duty, the Executive Director for the Louisiana Casino Association. “You’re constantly adapting as a business to learn what the new normals are and trying to service the customers under some significant which we accept.”

Duty said those numbers do not paint the entire picture, saying the house is losing more than just at the tables.

“What you aren’t seeing is that many of our other amenities, particularly our food and beverage options are operating under the same restrictions that all the other locations are in Louisiana, so those revenues are significantly down,” Duty said.

RELATED: Gov. John Bel Edwards explains maskless photo

While it is not a pretty picture, Duty does not expect any further mass layoffs in the gaming industry across the state. He expects most to hang on until a vaccine is widely available and restrictions ease. He also suspects there will be an increased urgency in Baton Rouge for casinos like the Belle and Hollywood to up investment in their gaming floors to compete with the newer L’Auberge. noting Hollywood was just approved to move on land.

“The reinvestment that comes with new facilities, reinvestment does drive revenue so if you make it possible for that reinvestment to occur, again by moving on land, then you’ll certainly see a response in the revenue profile,” Duty said.

Duty says that all depends on the cards at hand and how soon the restrictions can be lifted.

Click here to report a typo.

Copyright 2020 WAFB. All rights reserved.