Harrah’s New Orleans Casino experienced a revenue slump based on the recent revenue report released by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. The casino reported a 16% decrease in year on year revenue and brought in just $24.1 million.
Where there are a number of factors that might have contributed to the slump in revenue, Harrah’s believes that the citywide smoking ban is the main reason why revenue has slumped. New Orleans passed a citywide ban on smoking on the 22nd of April. Harrah’s stated that between the 22nd of April and the 30th of April revenue declined by 15 percent.
The New Orleans City Council debated the smoking ban for a long time before the council voted unanimously in January 2015 to roll out a blanket ban on smoking. Harrah’s opposed the ban in January and stated that the ban will have a significant impact on their casino revenue and they could end up losing as much as twenty percent. Harrah’s predictions have come true and the casino expects revenue to continue to decline in 2015.
The decline in revenue is not unexpected as regulators in Louisiana estimated the state would lose over $100 million in revenue during the next 24 months due to the smoking ban. New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu and New Orleans city councillors are prepared to deal with the financial consequences as they want to prioritize the health and safety concerns of the public at all costs.
Harrah’s casino officials tried hard to persuade the city council to review its decision and even requested the city to approve a request to run for casinos to run cigar bars within its premises. The request was turned down and the city council made it clear that the smoking ban will be rolled out with no reservations.
Harrah’s casino joined forced with fifty other companies who were also against the smoking ban and together they decided to sue the city. Yet a short time later, Harrah’s casino decided to withdraw from the lawsuit and instead adjust its policies to accommodate the smoking ban.
Ms. Russell remains hopeful that the city will give the casino a chance to work out a deal that will be mutually beneficial for both parties and help balance “the fiscal impacts with the public health and safety concerns.” Russell also confirmed that until a deal was worked out between the two parties, Harrah’s New Orleans Casino would fully comply with the regulations imposed by the city.