Belle of BR bucks decline in riverboat casino winnings

The Belle of Baton Rouge bucked a statewide decline in riverboat gambling revenue in March, but not enough to offset a nearly 10 percent drop for the Baton Rouge market.

Statewide, winnings from the state’s 14 riverboats, slots at four racetracks and the Harrah’s land-based casino totaled $224.1 million, a 3.5 percent decline from $232.2 million a year ago, according to figures released Thursday by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

Riverboat casino winnings dipped 4.3 percent to $154.4 million, as all four riverboat markets in the state posted declines. The state’s racetrack slot casinos also dipped 5.6 percent to $37 million. However, the land-based Harrah’s New Orleans casino saw its winnings increase 3.2 percent to $32.6 million.

Revenue in the Baton Rouge market fell to $26 million in March from $28.8 million a year ago, the biggest percentage decline among the state’s four riverboat gambling markets.

Hollywood Baton Rouge dropped 15 percent to $6.8 million from $8 million, while L’Auberge Baton Rouge fell 12 percent to $13.3 million from $15.1 million.

The Belle increased its winnings by 5.3 percent to $5.9 million in March from $5.6 million a year ago.

Wade Duty, executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, a trade group for riverboats, said he didn’t have an explanation for the year-to-year drop in revenue. “March is usually a decent month,” he said. Duty noted that Mississippi casino revenue also was down in March. Mississippi casino revenues dropped from $214.1 million in March 2013 to nearly $208.2 million, according to figures from the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

Here are how other markets in the state fared in March:

NEW ORLEANS: Despite the gain in winnings at Harrah’s, gambling revenues in the Crescent City were down slightly. The land-based casino, three riverboats and slots at the Fair Grounds brought in nearly $62.9 million in March, compared with $63 million that was won in March 2013.

The riverboats saw winnings drop by 4.3 percent to nearly $25.5 million from $26.6 million.

The racetrack slots brought in nearly $4.8 million, down from the nearly $4.9 million in winnings in March 2013.

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER: Despite a sixth riverboat casino in its fleet last year compared with 2013, the take dropped 0.2 percent to $60.7 million. The Harrah’s Louisiana Downs racetrack in Bossier City dropped 8 percent to nearly $6.1 million.

LAKE CHARLES: Its two riverboat casinos combined for a 6.2 percent drop to almost $42.3 million.

OTHER MARKETS: Delta Downs in Vinton was down by 6.8 percent to $17.6 million. Evangeline Downs in Opelousas had a 3.7 percent loss to $8.5 million.