Harrah’s New Orleans, A Bright Spot For Louisiana Casino Revenue In May

Written By Derek Helling on June 21, 2023
gambling chips, playing cards, and a roulette wheel appear under a floating harrah's new orleans logo

The state of Louisiana’s original land-based casino, Harrah’s New Orleans, led the evolution of gaming in the state away from riverboats. For May 2023, Harrah’s led the way for the gambling industry in the state in another way as well.

While the state’s racetracks with slots (also called racinos) and riverboats saw downturns compared to their May 2022 performances, Harrah’s improved upon its past numbers. Louisiana’s online sportsbooks followed Harrah’s lead for the month as well.

Harrah’s New Orleans continues to stand out

Harrah’s won’t be the only land-based casino in Louisiana forever. Several of the state’s riverboat casino operators are either currently working on or planning inland moves. For the moment, though, Harrah’s is an outlier in multiple ways.

According to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board’s May report, Harrah’s earned $21.7 million in gross gaming revenue for the month. That represented slight improvements in two comparisons. First, it’s an uptick of 1.8% from the casino’s April gaming revenue.

Harrah’s also beat its May 2022 revenue by nearly a million dollars or about 4.6%. That adds to what’s been a strong year for the casino in terms of revenue. Through May, Harrah’s is up 16% compared to the first five months of 2022.

As the riverboat casinos follow Harrah’s on terra firma, they didn’t mimic Harrah’s year-over-year small improvement. Most of the 14 riverboats struggled to match their May 2022 sums.

Riverboat casinos vary wildly in their annual comparisons

While Harrah’s posted a slight year-over-year improvement, the 14 riverboats ranged greatly in how May 2023 went for them. For example, Bally’s in Shreveport beat its May 2022 figures by almost 8%.

L’Auberge Baton Rouge was the only other riverboat to best its same month, prior year numbers. That improvement was a much smaller 2.6%, however. The other 12 riverboats all ranged from totally flat in an annual comparison to being down 17.7% for the month.

When combined, their adjusted revenue came to $153.4 million for May 2023. That represents a slight decline of 2.3% compared to May 2022. At the same time, May was even less lucrative for Louisiana’s four racinos.

Racinos fail to keep pace in May

The greatest deviation from Harrah’s lead in May came from Louisiana’s four racinos. Three of the four saw a significant annual decline, with Evangeline Downs being the outlier. Evangeline was still essentially flat for the month, though, beating its May 2022 revenue by a mere 0.9%.

Altogether, the four racinos reported $27.7 million in May adjusted revenue. Thus, casino gaming in Louisiana for May 2023 produced $181.1 million in adjusted revenue (racinos and riverboats) plus Harrah’s $21.7 million in gross revenue.

It’s important to understand how adjusted and gross revenue differ to comprehend how Louisiana taxes that revenue. Louisiana’s legal sports betting system is a perfect example of that differentiation.

Louisiana’s online sportsbooks enjoy strong May

Overall, Louisiana’s eight active online sportsbooks had a successful month. They reported $25.5 million in adjusted revenue in May, besting the same figure in May 2022 by almost 13%. The amount of money that bettors wagered on the apps during the month was up almost a quarter compared to May 2022, resting at $177.8 million.

However, those eight apps won more from bettors than they reported in adjusted revenue during the month. Louisiana allows them to deduct their promotional credits that bettors take advantage of from their taxable revenue.

Louisiana assesses a 15% privilege tax on what’s left over after sportsbooks make those deductions.

infographic showing the difference between adjusted and gross revenues for louisiana gambling taxes

Because of those deductions, Louisiana’s online sportsbooks added $3.2 million to the state’s gaming tax haul for May. With the same from physical sportsbooks in the state, Harrah’s, racinos, and riverboats, Louisiana collected $79.5 million in taxes for the month.

That number could have been higher if more of the state’s racinos and riverboats followed Harrah’s lead. At the same time, some of them are working on doing just that right now.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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