Update: Please see comments below for an in-depth rundown on the history of this issue and more. ed.
American casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corporation has reportedly told officials in Louisiana that the 2015 indoor smoking ban instituted in Orleans Parish has severely hurt business at its Harrah’s Casino And Hotel New Orleans.
According to a report from The Times-Picayune newspaper citing a story from the Manship School News Service, representatives for the Las Vegas-based casino operator made the revelation on Tuesday during a meeting with the Riverboat Economic Development And Gaming Task Force in Baton Rouge.
Caesars Entertainment Corporation also operates the Horseshoe Bossier City and the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino And Racetrack facilities near the city of Shreveport and reportedly revealed that its New Orleans casino had lost about $70 million in revenues since the start of the smoking ban in April of 2015.
Mark Frissora, President and Chief Executive Officer for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, reportedly told officials that its Harrah’s Casino And Hotel New Orleans property had found it difficult to compete with casinos in surrounding counties as the smoking ban only applies to venues in Orleans Parish.
“It’s not fair because everyone else around us doesn’t have the smoking ban,” Frissora reportedly told the Riverboat Economic Development And Gaming Task Force.
Dan Real, Regional President South for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, reportedly told those assembled that the first quarter of 2015 had seen the Harrah’s Casino And Hotel New Orleans post its best-ever financial results but that these had now decreased due to the indoor smoking ban.
Despite the drop in business, Real reportedly explained that he remains optimistic about the future prospects of the Harrah’s Casino And Hotel New Orleans due in part to the imminent launch of two new outdoor slot areas. The venue premiered a 63-machine smoker-friendly area in November and hopes to open an additional pair of courtyards by the start of July.
“Sixty-three slot machines will never make up for the gap that’s been created but that’s one example of multiple things we’re trying to do to fill the funnel that has been left void,” Real told the Manship School News Service.
For his part, Frissora reportedly stated that Caesars Entertainment Corporation remains committed to Louisiana and is planning to build “casinos of the future” with one of these set for its current location in New Orleans.
“Everything we do should address both millennials as well as baby boomers,” Frissora told the Manship School News Service while pointing out that the Harrah’s Casino And Hotel New Orleans is additionally planning to open a new all-ages entertainments center on its second floor in July.