Louisiana Racino Appears to Impact Riverboat Casinos

by Hector San Miguel

Slot machines at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., appear to have impacted five riverboat casinos in the Shreveport/Bossier City market, according to July revenue reports filed with the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

Louisiana Downs opened its 905-machine slots parlor May 21. The track, owned by Harrah's Entertainment, is located about 10 minutes east of the five riverboat casinos docked along the Red River between Shreveport and Bossier City.

The racetrack slots pulled in gross revenue of more than $5 million in July, up from $4.6 million in June. The five riverboat casinos reported total gross revenue of $68.2 million in July, down $4.5 million from the same month in 2002.

Gaming control board chairman Hillary Crain said the $4.5-million decrease showed "almost a direct correlation between the boats and the track."

Dan Lee, chairman of Pinnacle Entertainment, said the company's Boomtown Bossier riverboat casino "was up pretty nicely in the quarter, but we are still not happy with it. The racetrack has maybe had some impact on us, but I think most of problems have been self-imposed."

Harrah's Entertainment owns one of the Shreveport riverboat casinos. The Las Vegas-based company reported in its latest quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Louisiana Downs generated $10.8 million in revenue for the second quarter, but it had a $1.4-million loss because of project expenses. A 1,500-machine slots parlor is under construction at the track.

The renovation and expansion of Louisiana Downs is expected to cost about $110 million, $29 million of which had been spent as of June 30.

The slots at Louisiana Downs generated more than $843,000 in purse money from May through July. Harrah's acquired Louisiana Downs last December for $85.2 million. The company also operates two riverboat casinos in Lake Charles, La., and a land-based casino in New Orleans.

Delta Downs in Vinton, La., reported $11.7 million in gross revenue for July. State revenue reports show slot machines at Delta Downs have generated $193.3 million in gross revenue in 17 months of operation, and more than $28.9 million in purses during the same period.