Louisiana Casino Revenues Down in June: Smoking Status Not a Factor

Media Contact: Cynthia Hallett, MPH
Executive Director, ANR
510-841-3032

Louisiana Casino Revenues Down in June: Smoking Status Not a Factor

Berkeley, CA – Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) congratulates New Orleans on the success of its smokefree indoor air law. Everyone deserves the right to breathe smokefree air in their job and in public places. Working in the city’s “cultural economy” shouldn’t mean having to get sick from breathing at work.

Unfortunately, Harrah’s New Orleans (Caesars) is once again blaming the life-saving smokefree workplace law for a monthly decline in Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR).

Based on the publicly accessible economic reports online from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, one can see that Harrah’s New Orleans has been losing money well before discussion of the Smokefree NOLA law took effect April 22nd. The property’s gaming revenue has been trending downward over the last 10 years.

image depicting gross revenue for Harrah's Casino February 2006 to April 2015Chart from Tobacco Free Louisiana

Moreover, June 2015 month-to-month revenue is down at ALL of Louisiana’s riverboat and land-based casinos regardless of smoking status.   For example, Harrah’s New Orleans month-to-month revenue was down 14% in June 2015. But at nearby competitors Boomtown and Treasure Chest casinos in Jefferson Parish, gaming revenue was down 14.8% and 11.8% respectively despite allowing indoor smoking.  The steepest monthly declines were at smoke-filled properties in the Shreveport/Bossier region.

Chart 1: Louisiana State Police June 2015 GGR Chart for Riverboat Casinos
Chart 2: Louisiana State Police June 2015 GGR Chart for Land-Based Casinos

The gaming industry, like much of the hospitality industry, can routinely experience seasonal fluctuations. It is also subject to volatility based on many variables such as weather, market saturation, changing market demographics and the economy.  Below is a chart showing Harrah’s New Orleans revenue by month. One can see that monthly variations have been common long before the April 22nd effective date of the smokefree law. (Read our earlier post for more in-depth discussion.)

image depicting gross revenue for Harrah's Casino for January to april 2006 to 2015Chart from Tobacco Free Louisiana

We applaud Harrah’s New Orleans for its positive signage. We encourage Caesars, as part of its publicly stated commitment to healthy workplaces and communities, to help lead the gaming industry thoughtfully toward smokefree indoor air parity by supporting local and state smokefree workplace laws across regional markets.

The casino industry strives to establish itself as a legitimate mainstream employer and entertainment destination – one that isn’t above the law. Being smokefree indoors as part of public health laws – just like any other large employer – adds legitimacy for the gaming industry.

The science is well established that smoking sections, smoking rooms, and even sophisticated casino ventilation and air cleaning systems do not address the health hazards of secondhand smoke.

There are now more than 500 smokefree casinos and gambling venues in the U.S. Twenty states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands all require commercial gaming facilities to be 100% smokefree indoors including many of the U.S.’s hottest gaming expansion markets such as Maryland, Ohio, Massachusetts, and New York. A growing number of sovereign Tribes are making their gaming facilities smokefree indoors too.

To learn more, visit: www.SmokefreeCasinos.org

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