Ohio racinos set revenue records in March

First-quarter results yield 11-percent increase for slots-only gambling venues

Gamblers in Ohio swarmed to slot machines like never before in March.

The state’s seven racinos — which house more than 10,000 slot machines but no table games — set a record with combined net winnings of $78.6 million last month.

Miami Valley Gaming near Monroe surpassed $12 million in monthly revenue for the first time, reporting $12.2 million in net winnings.

Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway also recorded a record month with $7,868,054 in March revenue.

“Historically, March is a strong month in the gaming industry,” said Jerry Abner, Miami Valley Gaming marketing director. “It’s due to better spring weather, and people are starting to get their tax returns back. This year was no different.”

March’s big numbers added to the industry’s recent momentum. Ohio racinos reported combined net winnings of nearly $220 million for the first three months of the year, an 11 percent increase over the first quarter of 2015.

MVG’s record month saw an increase in its average number of slot machines in play by 24, to 1,624, due to the expansion of its smoking patio. Abner also said harness racing helped boost traffic. MVG’s racing season ends May 8, one day after the Kentucky Derby.

Hollywood Gaming in north Dayton has 992 slot machines, or video lottery terminals. The two area racinos combined to give away more than $4 million in promotional play last month.

Casino revenue up

Ohio’s four casinos in March recorded their third-best month on record, combining for $73.7 million in revenue. For the first quarter, they took in $211.3 million, a 3 percent year-over-year increase.

If the state’s 11 gambling sites maintain their current pace, 2016 will be a $1.7 billion year for the industry in Ohio. Some experts have said they expect the state to grow to a $2 billion market.

“They’re still getting to know their patrons, their market, just like any business,” said Matt Schuler, executive director for the Ohio Casino Control Commission. “Generally, we’ve seen casinos in Indiana and Pennsylvania where we repatriated those gambling dollars have revenues go down 20 percent.

“Clearly, folks are staying in the state of Ohio and going to the facilities, whether it’s the casinos or the racinos. That aspect of the (2009) ballot issue and what they said they wanted it to accomplish has actually worked.”

Ohio voters approved a change to the state constitution in 2009 that allowed casino gambling. The state’s first casino opened in May 2012.

The Hollywood Columbus and Hollywood Toledo both improved on their March 2015 numbers, while the Horseshoe Cincinnati and Horseshoe Cleveland both fell short of their totals from a year ago.

The Hollywood properties are operated by Penn National Gaming.

“While we don’t comment on monthly revenues, our teams continue to focus on providing our guests with best-in-class customer service and entertainment, and these numbers reflect that for our Ohio facilities, including Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway,” Penn National Gaming spokesman Eric Schippers said in a statement.

A new name

The Horseshoe Cincinnati reported $16,979,259 in March revenue. The casino is being rebranded under the Jack Entertainment umbrella, a transition that will be complete by June.

“That’s going to be a completely new brand, new operator, which will create some new dynamics,” Schuler said.

Another of last month’s significant revenue milestones was reached by the Hard Rock Rocksino in suburban Cleveland. The large racino, with 2,275 slot machines, reported $20.2 million in revenue, the first time a racino has eclipsed the $20 million mark.

It was one of five racinos to set monthly revenue records in March. Belterra Park, located southeast of downtown Cincinnati, was among them, with $6.6 million in revenue.

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