A few dozen dignitaries gathered on the banks of the Harvey Canal on Wednesday to celebrate a $20 million hotel at Boomtown Casino New Orleans, a project that casino owners and local politicians hope will attract more gamblers and spur tax revenues.
The 150-room, five-story hotel, built over the past two years on Peters Road, overlooks Boomtown Casino, which previously had no hotel on the property.
Harold Rowland, Boomtown vice president and general manager, said the idea of a hotel stretches back to when the casino first opened. The finished product represents the casino staying competitive, he said, adding amenities for visitors and addressing declining revenues.
"It's about staying relevant in this business," Rowland said.
Gamblers at Boomtown New Orleans lost $113.2 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, down 9 percent from $124.8 million the previous year, according to state records.
Looking over the past eight years, Boomtown's revenues have fallen by nearly half. In the 2005-06 fiscal year, according to state records, Boomtown's adjusted gross revenue was $209.5 million.
By comparison, total Louisiana riverboat revenues are down 7 percent over that same time, coming in at $1.71 billion last fiscal year.
Boomtown's owner, Pinnacle Entertainment, also owns Boomtown Bossier City and L'Auberge in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, along with casinos in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada and Ohio. Boomtown in Harvey is one of 15 riverboat casinos in Louisiana.
Local politicans including Jefferson Parish President John Young and parish Councilman Ricky Templet cheered the development and its tax revenue growth potential, including hotel occupancy and sales taxes.
Templet said when the company arrived, Boomtown made a committement to the West Bank and has followed through in funding public and nonprofit projects and events. "Boomtown has stepped up over the last 20 years," he said.
The hotel will employ 45 people.
December proved to be a good month for the casino, which saw year-over-year revenue up by more than 6 percent, while total state riverboat revenue was up by more than 20 percent from huge gains in Lake Charles area casinos.