A study prepared for the Louisiana Department of Economic Development recommends that two riverboat casinos in Bossier City move.
Spectrum Gaming Group of Horscham, Pennsylvania, said the Shreveport-Bossier City market has been hurt by the rise of bigger tribal casinos in Oklahoma that are much closer to the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
The Spectrum study recommends that Boomtown Bossier City move to north shore of Lake Pontchartrain and Diamond Jacks relocate to northeast Louisiana.
The study also found that if the two casinos move their revenues and the taxes they pay the state would also increase.
Boomtown’s 2018 revenue total $56.5 million. Spectrum estimates that would increase to $100 million with a move to the southeast Louisiana. That’s an increase of $43.5 million. The state’s gaming tax would increase by just over $9 million.
Diamond Jacks gross revenue totaled $38.1 million in 2018. The Spectrum study estimates they would increase their revenue by $21.9 million. The state would see an increase of $4.7 million in taxes.
Bossier City's other two riverboat casinos -- Margaritaville and Horseshoe -- are the market's top performers.
"The competition is much greater for northwest Louisiana,” Ronnie Jones, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, said. “And, we know there are at least one or two too many casinos in the Shreveport-Bossier area, and the consultants noted that and recommended that two licensees be permitted to leave."
Although the study makes these suggestions, Jones said the gaming control board can’t force the casinos to relocate. That’s a business decision, he said.
Jeff Morris , vice president of Penn National Gaming owners of Boomtown, released the following statement about the study.
“While we have not had a chance to review the study in full, we are proud of our operations at Boomtown Bossier City and have no intention of seeking its relocation. We believe the concept of relocating casino licenses is bad public policy.”
Paul Hutchens, vice president and general manager of Diamond Jacks Casino and Hotel said he appreciates the state's opportunity to grow their business.
The state currently has 15 riverboat licensed casinos.
The report also pointed out that the New Orleans market has also been hurt by the Mississippi Gulf coast casinos.
The report also figured in the lottery, the state’s Indian casinos and the possibility of sports betting being approved by the legislature this year.
A new law effective last year allows the riverboats to essentially become land-based operations as long as any new facilities stay within 1,200 feet – or 400 yards – of their docking site. Also, the law did away with the limitation on gaming space and instead set a cap for seats, which means more gaming devices can be added.
The moves were seen as ways of helping the casino operators stay competitive. So far, however, none of the Shreveport-Bossier casinos have publicly announced plans for construction or expansion.
Spectrum Gaming Group is a non-partisan consultancy that specializes in the economics, regulation and policy of legalized gambling worldwide. They provided independent research and professional services to public- and private-sector clients.