Caesars Entertainment recently appeared before a Louisiana gaming taskforce and highlighted the negative impact of the smoking ban imposed within casinos in New Orleans back in April 2015.
According to Caesars Entertainment president and CEO Mark Frissora, Harrah's Casino & Hotel located in downtown New Orleans has lost nearly $70 million in revenue in the two years since the smoking ban was enforced. Harrah's is one of the three gaming facilities owned by Caesars Entertainment in the area.
Testifying before the Riverboat Economic Development and Gaming Task Force, Frissora pointed out that the property was particularly affected because of the ban being applicable to the Orleans Parish alone. Dan Real, the president for the south region for Caesars Entertainment stated that the company had experienced the best quarter in its history just before the ban was put into force.
Task Force chairman Ronnie Jones acknowledged that the smoking ban was having an impact. He noted that revenues for properties in neighboring areas had been declining before the ban but were now increasing. Real said that the ban was also impacting revenues for the state and the city but added that he did not expect the authorities to reverse the decision. He said that a new measure, the addition of 63 new slot machines to a smoker-friendly courtyard in the complex, might help plug the gap.
This is the first of the three such courtyards, with two more scheduled to open before the July 4 weekend, according to Real. He went on to say that such measures may help reduce the revenue loss only partially, noting that they were an example of the various methods being explored by the company to close the shortfall. Despite the setbacks, Frissora said that Caesars Entertainment was committed to increasing its presence in region and was planning new casinos, with one of them likely to be situated in New Orleans.
Frissora stated that the company was making sure to introduce features that attracted both millennials and baby boomers. One of the plans is to also build a new entertainment center that will be open to all. The task force members agreed that the gaming industry was undergoing numerous changes in the state.
In a statement, Walt Leger task force member and state rep. said “The model is shifting. We just need to allow an entertainment company like yours to continue to provide more opportunities”