FILE - Harrah's Casino New Orleans Louisiana

Harrah's Casino at sunset in downtown New Orleans

Riverboat casino revenue fell in three of Louisiana’s four markets in December as compared to the same month last year, causing an overall drop of more than 5 percent, according to reports presented to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

All New Orleans casinos reported higher revenue, leading to a 7.4 percent increase for that market. But the Shreveport/Bossier market saw mixed results and a market decline of 1.8 percent.

Every casino in the Lake Charles and Baton Rouge markets took in less money last month than in December 2017. Lake Charles was down 8.1 percent and Baton Rouge was down 15.5 percent.

The Belle of Baton Rouge fell 38.8 percent, by far the biggest decline of any property. There has been talk that Belle owner Eldorado Resorts would take advantage of new state rules allowing casinos to move inland and upgrade the facility, though more recent reports indicate that is unlikely.

Gaming watchers suspect legal sports betting in Mississippi is eating into Louisiana’s casino business, though no formal studies have been done on the subject. Gov. John Bel Edwards and some legislators say Louisiana should follow the lead of Mississippi and other states that are legalizing sports betting to help Louisiana’s casinos stay competitive.

Video gaming revenue was up 5.5 percent compared to last December, while the New Orleans land-based casino was up 7.7 percent. Slots at state racetracks were up 2.7 percent.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.