How Louisiana Wins


Approximately 15,000 people are employed by riverboat casinos in Louisiana at a full-time average tips and salary of over $25,000 annually. When full health care and benefits are calculated, the average annual compensation is $31,863.

Below is a comparison of employment figures and average salaries with other selected industries within Louisiana which have similar educational requirements. (Source: La. Dept. of Labor)

Retail Trade 229,642 $18,750
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing 12,573 $21,447
Riverboat Gaming 15,000 $25,001
Arts, Entertainment & Recreation 48,967 $20,680
Construction 133,837 $31,678

Average wages for Louisiana riverboat casino employees are the second highest within the North American Industry Classification System Code (NAICS) 71 and one out of three people working within this Arts, Entertainment and Recreation group work at a riverboat casino property.

Casino employee salaries have risen on average 4% per year over the last several years. Unlike many other employment sectors within Louisiana that have suffered from workforce reductions, the total number of people directly employed by the riverboats has remained steady at existing properties. The number of persons employed by the riverboat casino industry overall has of course increased with each new property that has opened, creating on average nearly 1,000 new jobs per new license. The fifteenth and final riverboat license issued is expected to create over 1,800 new jobs in the Lake Charles region when it opens in 2005.

Twenty percent (20%) of riverboat casino employees have been able to end their dependence on government assistance by taking a job in the industry, while seventy percent (70%) have developed new job skills as a result of their employment. (Source: Coopers & Lybrand study, March 1997)


Since 1994, Louisiana riverboats have contributed over $2.02 billion in state and $557 million in local taxes. In FY 2002-2003 the riverboat casinos alone paid the state over $335 million in gaming taxes, with another $78 million going to local governments. The annual state gaming tax rate is now 21.5% of adjusted gaming revenues, while our neighbors in Mississippi tax their casinos at 8%. For comparison purposes, state gaming taxes in Nevada are 6.75% and in New Jersey are 9.25%.

What many are unaware of is unlike many other business taxes, this special gaming tax is collected "off the top" before any of the more traditional business tax deductions are allowed. The gaming tax is calculated by first taking the total gaming revenue and subtracting player winnings. The result, known as "adjusted gaming revenue" or AGR is then taxed at the 21.5% rate, before payroll, insurance, utilities, other taxes and a host of other business expenses are subtracted. Casinos still pay all of the other taxes that other businesses in Louisiana do in addition to this special gaming tax. Often people mistake the "gaming revenue" figures as pure profit which as any other business owner can attest is certainly not the case since adjusted gaming revenue (AGR) is really more like gross sales and not net profit.

State gaming taxes collected from the riverboat casinos fund vital state services including highway construction, elementary and secondary schools, teacher salaries, fire protection and police protection. In fact, over 40% of the entire Louisiana State Police annual budget comes from riverboat gaming taxes. Without riverboat gaming tax revenue, many vital governmental services would have to be cut while the people of Louisiana would be faced with higher taxes.

Occasionally someone will ask, "Where does the gaming money go?" and this is an excellent question. With few exceptions such as the 2001 $50 million teacher pay raise, the bulk of the gaming taxes received by the state are deposited into the state general fund which is then dispersed at the discretion of the Louisiana Legislature each year. Once the casinos or for that matter any business submits its taxes to the state, they have no control over how the money is spent.


Louisiana riverboats purchased over $454 million in good and services in 2002, with over 70% of that coming from in-state vendors. With many riverboat casinos having hotels associated with their operations a tremendous range of products are purchased, from seafood and soft drinks to concrete and fine linens. The vendors supplying these goods and services in turn have created jobs that are directly linked to casino purchases and range from large food distribution centers to true "mom and pop" operations supplying specialty gift items.

Since its inception, the riverboat casinos have made more than $1.7 billion in capital investments including hotels, shoreline and marine facilities, parking areas and live entertainment facilities. This has allowed the Louisiana riverboat casinos to attractAbig name@entertainment for the enjoyment of our guests including Wayne Newton, Willie Nelson, Al Green, The Temptations and Dolly Parton.

The jobs provided by the riverboats have also allowed our employees and their families to purchase nearly 4,000 homes, 9,000 cars and 10,000 major household appliances in one year. (Source: Coopers & Lybrand study, March 1997)

The Louisiana riverboat casinos have also done their part in supporting the hundreds of worthwhile charitable and civic groups in Louisiana. Over $22 million has been donated by the riverboat casinos since 1994 with over $3 million donated in 2002 alone. Further, our employees donate thousands of hours to community service.


Louisiana riverboat casinos admitted 32.9 million people in 2002, millions of whom stayed overnight in nearby hotels, ate at nearby restaurants and shopped at local stores. Over 17 million of these people were visitors* (traveling more than 150 miles*) from out of state, primarily from the Houston and Dallas areas. Nearly a million people a month come from these areas to the Shreveport/Bossier City riverboats. Estimates of visitor spending indicate an out of town traveler will spend $150.00 per day on food, lodging, gifts and gasoline. The Casino Association using only $50 per day conservatively calculates these out of town visitors spent more than $873 million in 2002 while visiting our casinos.


As noted above, 53% of Louisiana casino patrons are visitors from out of town and most likely out of state. As a result, $177.8 million dollars of gaming money is collected by the state of Louisiana from people who don=t live here with another $41.4 million being collected by the local governments. This likely represents the single largest source of out-of-state money received by the state.

Casino patrons come from all walks of life and despite unsubstantiated stories to the contrary, the "average" casino customer comes from a household that earns more ($50,716 vs. $42,228), is slightly older (47 vs. 45) and more likely to have attended college (53% vs. 52%) than the "average" person making up the U.S. population. (Sources: NFO WorldGroup and U.S. Census)


A Coopers & Lybrand LLP study of Louisiana casino employees conducted in March 1997*

Total gaming industry employees in Louisiana 14,061
Number of gaming industry employees surveyed 9,836


Purchasing Power

Estimated number of the following items purchased by local gaming employees within the last year:

house or condominium 3,340
car 8,707
major appliances 9,1854

Projected number of monthly meals purchased by local gaming employees each month:

dine-in restaurants 38,247
fast food, pick-up and delivered meals 72,790

Community Service

Louisiana gaming employees contribute their money -

Projected number of employees donating money to charity 10,337
Projected amount of money given to charities by local gaming employees within the last year $1,924,000

Louisiana gaming employees contribute their time -

Projected number of employees donating time to charity 3,857
Projected number of hours of volunteer service given to charities by local gaming employees each month 44,602


A Coopers & Lybrand LLP study of Louisiana casino employees conducted in March, 1997*

Total gaming industry employees in Louisiana 14,061
Number of gaming industry employees surveyed 9,836
Increase in number of jobs since Dec. 95 461
Employment growth 3.4%


Public Assistance:

% of employees we were able to get off welfare 11.2%
% of employees no longer receiving unemployment 20.2%
% of employees no longer receiving food stamps 13.2%

Health Care:

% of employees who have better health care because of their job in the casino industry 63.7%

Family Needs:

% of employees who have better access to day care because of their job in the casino industry 50.0%
% of employees who now worry less about making ends meet as a result of their job in the industry 58.2%

Education and Job Skills:

% of employees able to develop new job skills as a result of their job in the industry 68.9%
% of employees who received training from their employer 73.5%

* Survey Information:
In March, 1997, Coopers & Lybrand was engaged by the American Gaming Association (AGA) to conduct a nationwide survey of employees in the gaming industry. The industry is defined as all gaming activity that occurs in fully licensed casinos. The survey has sought direct feedback from the gaming industry employees. In Louisiana, 9,836 employees were surveyed. This is 69.95% of the 14,061 total number of Louisiana residents employed in the gaming industry. The indicated totals are projected to the total population of employees in the industry.