Caesars Outlines Significant Losses from Smoking Ban

by Jim Hall

Caesars Entertainment is claiming they have lost millions due to a smoking ban in New Orleans in relation to their Harrah’s Casino & Hotel located downtown.

For the most part, casinos provide a space for individuals who smoke, be it on the casino floor or in designated areas. Over the past few years, many states have adopted no smoking policies or strict regulations when it comes to smoking in public. In New Orleans, a local smoking ban is being blamed for significant losses at the Harrah’s Casino & Hotel in downtown by Caesars Entertainment.

Representatives of Caesars Entertainment recently outlined the negative impact of the smoking ban for their facility, their number one gaming venue in the state of Louisiana during the Riverboat Economic Development and Gaming Task Force meeting. The casino is one of three in the state owned by the company, with two other venues located in Bossier City.

$70 Million in Losses

Mark FrissoraMark Frissora, the CEO and President of Caesars Entertainment stated that Harrah’s in New Orleans has lost close to $70 million in a two year time frame. The time span started when the smoking ban was enacted in New Orleans back in April of 2015. Frissora spoke with the task force on Tuesday revealing the companies findings.

According to the CEO, the ban has made it difficult for Harrah’s to compete with other gaming venues in the surrounding area as the ban only affects the Orleans Parrish. He argued that the ban is unfair as every other operator does not have to deal with ban if they are located outside of the city. Players who smoke are more likely to visit venues where they will be allowed to partake with ease.

Dan Real is the President for the southern region of the United States with Caesar’s Entertainment who stated that the first quarter of 2015 was a great success, actually the best in the history of the company. This was just before the ban took place and things changed.

Further Decreases Reported

Ronnie Jones is the Chairman of the Task Force who stated during the meeting that revenues for properties in neighboring communities were decreasing as well and far before the ban was enacted. According to Jones the reverse is happening as revenues in these areas are increasing. Jones feels the smoking ban had an impact and has resulted in the New Orleans venues seeing a decrease while the outlying casinos are doing well.

The smoking ban has reportedly hurt the state and city as far as revenues are concerned but there does not seem to be any signs that the ban will be reversed. Currently, there are three courtyards that offer smoking at the Harrah’s casino and two more are scheduled to open before July 4th. These areas give players somewhere to smoke but slot gamers are not going to want to leave machines or table game players the table to be able to have a cigarette.

Harrah’s does offer slot machines in the new courtyard but there are only 63 so there is no significant earnings to be made in this area of the gaming venue. Despite the setbacks the gaming venue has seen, Caesars still has plans to improve their casino holdings in the state. The company has plans to build even more casinos in the future, one of which will be in New Orleans.

The company is looking to cater to millennials as well as the older generations. Caesars is looking to create a cool vibe for both demographics with the new gaming options they are projecting for the state.