La. casino revenue tops $2.4 billion in 2012

Louisiana’s 18 casinos took in $2.4 billion in revenue last year, a 1.3 percent increase over 2011, with Shreveport-Bossier City, Lake Charles
and New Orleans ranking among the Top 20 casino markets nationally, an American Gaming Association report shows.

Louisiana ranked fifth-biggest among the states by revenue.

The opening of L’Auberge Casino in Baton Rouge — becoming the third riverboat casino in the local market — helped boost overall casino revenue in the state, according to the report.

Shreveport/Bossier City ranked No. 13 nationally with casino revenue of $715.6 million, followed by Lake Charles at No. 14, with $687.0 million, and New Orleans, No. 20, with $622.2 million.

A year earlier, Shreveport/Bossier ranked No. 12 at $732.7 million, Lake Charles No. 13 at $672.6 million, and New Orleans No. 15 at $631.2 million.

“It’s not so much that New Orleans has dropped as other markets have grown,” Wade Duty, executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, said of the rankings.

The same holds true for Shreveport/Bossier City and Lake Charles, Duty said.

Louisiana’s casinos have been operating under the same model since 1993, while other states have added more land-based casinos and/or
other gaming options, Duty said.

The Las Vegas Strip topped the rankings at $6.21 billion, according to the report. Mississippi’s Gulf Coast was No. 8 at $1.1 billion, and Tunica/Lula, Miss. was No. 10 at $822 million.

Louisiana’s casinos attracted 31.6 million visitors in 2012 and generated $579.5 million in state taxes, up 1.1 percent over 2011 figures, and paid $631.0 million in wages to 15,061 workers, the report said.

However, casino employment fell from 17,207 jobs, a drop of 12.5 percent.

Duty said one reason for that may be that casinos have reduced employment because the industry’s customer count has remained static for the past three years.

“Although the revenue track is upwards, you don’t need more employees to handle the same or fewer customers,” Duty said.

Casinos may have also reduced the number of workers needed by automating some work, he added.

Louisiana’s casino employment has varied from year to year, according to the American Gaming Association. In 2009, the casinos employed 17,610 people; in 2010, the industry employed 16,873 people.

Nationally, casino employment in 2012 was down by a little more than 3,000 jobs, or 0.9 percent, despite new casinos opening in a handful of states.

The casino industry employed 332,075 people nationwide, the report shows. Those workers earned $13.2 billion in wages, benefits and tips, a 2.3 percent increase over 2011 figures.

Nationally, the commercial casino industry saw a third consecutive year of revenue increases, the report says. In 2012, gambling revenue reached $37.34 billion, the second-highest total and the highest amount since the recession began in 2008.

“After three years of increasing growth and positive signs in all sectors of the industry, it’s clear that we have weathered the recession,” Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., American Gaming Association president and chief executive officer, said in a news release.