BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - When L’Auberge Casino & Hotel opened just down river from the Belle of Baton Rouge and Hollywood opened back in 2012, economists warned the area would not be able to support three large casinos.
Seven years later, all three casinos remain open, but business is nowhere close to what it used to be.
“They’ve been losing jobs and they’ve been losing revenue, really since about the fourth quarter of 2014,” said Loren Scott, one of the economists that predicted L’Auberge would force one of the two downtown casinos to close. “Our market is strictly local and I just don’t see that it’s big enough to support all three."
According to the latest numbers from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, the outlook is bleak. Admissions and revenue at both the Belle and Hollywood have taken a nose dive.
At the Belle, just before L’Auberge opened in 2012, admission was 82,242. In August, that number was 31,414. It’s the same story with revenue. In August of 2012, the casino pulled in $6.05 million. In August, that figure dropped to $2.35 million, a 61% drop.
The situation is similar at Hollywood. In August of 2012, its admission was 89,773. In August, it was 53,317, a 41% drop. Revenue dropped from $9.3 million in August of 2012 to $4.5 million in August, a 51% drop.
Overall, L’Auberge pulled in more in revenue ($13.2 million) than both the Belle and Hollywood combined ($6.89 million). Similarly, admissions at L’Auberge for August of 2019 were greater than the other two casinos. L’Auberge saw 112,107 people come through the doors in August compared to 84,731 at the other two casinos.
"They have been losing revenues because of the competition, from the new and larger L’Auberge and then all three of them have been hit in the last year or so with the smoking ban,” Scott said.
He says despite the bad news, it doesn’t appear any casino will shut its doors in the immediate future.
“Usually right before this happens, they apply to the casino control board for the right to move somewhere else, for the right to move their license somewhere else,” he said. “So far, that has not happened, and I think that’s good news, at least in the short run.”
One thing that could help revive the Belle is a decision to bring the casino on land, which is now legal, but it would mean it would have to renovate its hotel and convention space.
WAFB reached out to the Belle; no one was willing to talk, rather, they are focused on its 25th anniversary of opening its doors.