Louisiana riverboat casinos keeping heads above water

Jan 23, 2001 10:08 AM

The Louisiana riverboat gaming market grew 2 percent last year over the year before, Louisiana State Police statistics show. Gross gaming revenues were $1.45 billion in 2000. The casinos paid $269 million in taxes.

Leading the revenue parade last year was Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City at $251.8 million, up 11 percent over the year before. The entire Shreveport-Bossier City market was up 5.8 percent from the year before.

For December, casino revenue was $124.4 million, up $14 million over the previous December. Some of that increase was due to the opening of Hollywood Casino in Shreveport. Open just 11 days in December, the casino racked up a win of $6.2 million. More than1 245,000 people jammed the casino in that week and a half.

Harrah’s takeover of Players’ two casino boats in Lake Charles had a strong impact on revenues. In December, Harrah’s-Lake Charles had revenues of $16.1 million versus $11.4 million for the same month in 1999 when Players was operating the casino.

Operator makes a Splash in Tunica

Alpha Hospitality Corporation (NASDAQ: ALHY) Friday was granted approval by the Mississippi Gaming Commission to operate the former Splash riverboat casino in Tunica.

Splash was the first floating casino to open (at Mhoon Landing) after Mississippi legalized gambling. Alpha officials said it will reopen in about four months, and will be called Splash Back.

Alpha plans to add land-based facilities such as a restaurant and lodging, plus the state-required back-of-house services (loading docks, warehouse, storerooms, etc.).

Harrah’s workers put on notice

Workers at Harrah’s New Orleans were notified last week that they will lose their jobs if the casino is unable to renegotiate its contract with the state of Louisiana.

The 2900 employees received the notice pursuant to a federal law that requires employers to give workers 60 days notice if there could be extensive layoffs.

Harrah’s New Orleans, currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, is trying to get the state and other venues to reduce its tax payment and other obligations in order to stay open. The casino may close March 31 if no financial help is forthcoming.

Harrah’s ordered to keep cash reserves

Even though it posted an increase in December revenue, Harrah’s New Orleans was ordered by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board to keep more cash on hand in case it runs into financial difficulties.

The board ordered Harrah’s to keep at least $17.5 million in cash reserves. In December, Harrah’s reported gross gaming revenue of $21.3 million.

Back Bay limits

Mississippi’s 300-room Royal D’Iberville casino could finally get the go-ahead in April at D’Iberville’s Back Bay area. State gaming commissioners in April will take up a draft regulation allowing its construction, but it still needs an environmental study.