Boomtown Casino has opened a $20 million hotel next to its riverboat in Harvey that officials say will increase the property’s market share and boost the tax revenue it pumps into local and parish governments.
By giving customers a place to stay, the five-story, 150-room hotel will help the casino extend its marketing reach and increase the amount of time its customers spend playing its slots and tables, Vice President and General Manager Harold Rowland said after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
Elected officials from Jefferson Parish, Westwego and Gretna joined West Bank state Sen. John Alario and Rep. Bryan Adams in lauding the 50 permanent jobs the hotel will bring and the 150 temporary jobs created during its construction.
Rowland said that in the casino business, “you have to reinvent yourself to stay relevant.” And while Boomtown likely will remain primarily frequented by locals, he said, having a place for customers to stay will make it a stronger link in the chain of owner Pinnacle Entertainment’s properties throughout the state and region.
Now Boomtown can try to tap into the influx of visitors to events such as Jazz Fest and the Sugar Bowl, Rowland said, and it can reach even deeper into its regional customer base.
With the hotel, he said, “that regional piece really comes into play. The guy in Houma can now come up and stay at the hotel and doesn’t have to worry about driving home after playing all night.”
Rowland also said the hotel will help Boomtown book convention and meeting business.
He would not say how much of a boost Pinnacle expects to see in its casino revenue with the opening of the hotel. But in a market that saw gambling revenue fall by 1 percent last year, he said, “We expect to gain market share this year. That’s the best way to put it.”
Seventeen of the hotel’s rooms are suites, and it includes a fitness center, conference space and additional parking.
The three-story Boomtown riverboat casino has more than 1,200 slot machines and 31 gambling tables.
According to Louisiana State Police figures, Boomtown draws just under 100,000 visitors per month. Its total of 589,367 during the six months ending in December was well above the 523,710 who visited the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner.
Harrah’s land-based casino in downtown New Orleans had 2.4 million visitors for the six months ending in December.
For the fiscal year ending in July, Boomtown reported $113.2 million in revenue, down from $124.8 million the year before.
The local tax revenue generated by Boomtown is divided among the parish and West Jefferson’s municipalities. The parish gets 32 percent, while Gretna and Westwego get 29 percent each and Lafitte and Grand Isle get 5 percent each.
Gretna and Westwego each get about $2 million per year from the casino.
Jefferson Parish Councilman Ricky Templet said the tax revenue is important to parish and local governments, noting that he recently pledged $50,000 for crime cameras in Terrytown that will be paid for by tax revenue from the casino.
“There are a lot of things that wouldn’t happen if we didn’t have those funds,” he said.
Templet also noted the parish will be able to collect hotel taxes from the development, a new revenue stream.
Mayor John Shaddinger said he has heard from Westwego residents interested in job opportunities at the hotel.
“It’s a great thing,” he said of the hotel expansion, “and it’s right here on the West Bank.”
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.