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Louisiana casinos win $205 million in April

Providing further evidence of increasing competition from a revived Mississippi Gulf Coast, Louisiana’s state-licensed casinos saw their winnings from gamblers in April drop nearly $9 million from the same month last year.

The state’s 12 riverboat casinos, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.’s downtown land casino in New Orleans and three slot machine casinos at race tracks took in a tad less than $205 million last month, compared with $213.9 million in April 2006, state police reported Wednesday.

The riverboats won $142.2 million in April, Harrah’s took in $32.3 million and the track casinos won $30.4 million.

Louisiana casinos enjoyed a record take for months after Hurricane Katrina wiped out all of the Gulfport-Biloxi gambling halls. The Louisiana pot has shrunk as more coastal gambling outlets have reopened.

Still, the Louisiana total was above the $189.5 million in gamblers’ losses reported in the pre-Katrina month of April 2005 when there were 15 operating riverboats.

Louisiana casinos won $230.3 million in March 2007, but industry observers said that was likely due to the fact that March had five weekends.

The New Orleans market, which consists of two riverboats and Harrah’s and is the closest Louisiana casino market to the Gulf Coast, won $55.7 million last month, down from $62.8 million last April and close to the April 2005 figure of $55.8 million.

The Baton Rouge market, which has two riverboats and enjoyed a surge of business from storm evacuees, took in $19.5 million last month, down from $21.7 million in April 2006, but still above the April 2005 figure of $18.6 million.

The Shreveport-Bossier City area, a market that has five riverboats and the Louisiana Downs track casino, won $69.7 million last month, up from $65.1 million in April 2006 and $67 million in April 2005.

The Lake Charles market, with three riverboats and the Delta Downs track casino, won $50.9 million from gamblers in April, down from $55.4 million in April 2006, but up from $40.3 million in April 2005.

The Evangeline Downs track casino took in $9.1 million last month, up slightly from $8.9 million in April 2006. In April 2006, gamblers lost $7.6 million.

In March 2007, Mississippi Gulf Coast casinos won $118.4 million, exceeding their March 2005 figure — pre-Katrina — of $117.8 million. In March 2006, the handful of casinos then open won $63.5 million, according to the Mississippi Tax Commission.

The Louisiana figures do not include the state’s three Indian reservation casinos, which are not required to report their figures to the public.