he 13 riverboat casinos, Harrah's downtown casino in New Orleans and the four race track casinos won us$ 2.54 billion for the state fiscal year that ended June 30, state police reported Tuesday.
With another us$ 673.3 million won by about 14,500 video poker machines in truck stops, bars, restaurants and off-track betting parlors, the tally totaled us$ 3.21 billion, just a tad lower than the us$ 3.28 billion for the previous fiscal year. The figure covers the gross win of all the games - or how much was kept by the establishments versus payouts - and doesn't cover expenses and taxes.
Since the modern era of legalized gambling began in Louisiana in 1993 with the first video poker machines and riverboats, the business has taken in us$ 37.5 billion.
But June saw the casino business in Louisiana joining many other states - including Mississippi - in recording double-figure dips in gambling revenue. The casinos took in us$ 193.4 million, down 10.7 % from us$ 214.1 million won in June 2008. Big drops have been the rule for some time in such casino states as Nevada and New Jersey.
The Louisiana report was issued a day after the Mississippi State Tax Commission reported that state's casinos took a 20 % drop in gambling revenue in the June-to-June comparison.
In May, Louisiana casinos won us$ 224.6 million.
Casino analyst Charlie Rareshide, who follows the industry for SMH Capital, said June is historically not a strong month for Louisiana casinos because of the start of summer vacation for families. "But we're beginning to see a catch-up," Rareshide said. "Louisiana is starting to mirror other jurisdictions."
However, Rareshide said Louisiana and Mississippi, from an overall economic standpoint, still stand ahead of other states and could be in a much better position when the economy starts to rebound. "The markets look healthy when you look at unemployment rates in conjunction with other states," he said.
Among the state's casino markets in June: Shreveport-Bossier City won us$ 61.5 million last month, down from us$ 68.8 million in June 2008 and us$ 70.5 million in May 2009. That area depends upon Dallas-Fort Worth as a feeder market and has been facing increased competition from Indian reservation gambling halls in Oklahoma.
Another Texas-oriented market, Lake Charles, took in us$ 53.8 million, down from us$ 56.9 million in June 2008 and us$ 61.2 million in May 2009. In New Orleans, winnings totaled us$ 50.2 million last month, down from us$ 56.4 million in June 2008 and us$ 59.9 million in May 2009.
The Baton Rouge market won us$ 16.1 million last month, down from us$ 18.4 million in June 2008 and us$ 18.7 million in May 2009. Morgan City's lone riverboat won us$ 4.1 million last month, down from us$ 4.6 million in June 2008 and us$ 4.7 million in May 2009.
The Evangeline Downs race track at Opelousas won us$ 7.7 million last month, down from us$ 9 million in June 2008 and us$ 9.6 million in May 2009. The figures do not include Louisiana's three Indian reservation casinos, which do not have to report their winnings to the public.
Video poker machines also saw a drop in revenue: us$ 49.3 million last month versus us$ 54.7 million in June 2008 and us$ 55.9 million in May 2009. The fiscal year concluded with 14,571 machines located at 2,294 establishments, including 7,327 machines at 186 truck stops that can have up to 50 machines each, depending on fuel sales. Over the fiscal year, video poker took in us$ 673.3 million, only a bit down from the previous year's tally of us$ 674.1 million.