Gaming sites see slight bump

Gambling revenue up 5.2 percent over 2015.

Continuing coverage

This newspaper has covered gambling in Ohio since it debuted four years ago. We are committed to tracking this growing industry and its impact on taxpayers.

Midway through 2016, Ohio’s casinos and racinos are trending slightly ahead of last year’s revenue numbers.

The state’s 11 gambling venues took in a combined $862 million over the first six months of the year — a 5.2 percent increase over the first half of 2015.

The state’s seven slots-only racinos performed slightly better than the four casinos with $447.8 million in revenue, a $37 million bump from last year.

Miami Valley Gaming, the racino near Monroe, reported revenue of $10.8 million in June, its best showing for the month since the racino opened in December 2013.

“We’re seeing an 8 percent increase for the entire year — that’s pretty good,” said MVG president and general manager Domenic Mancini. “The market is showing nice growth and the good thing is we’re getting our piece of that growth.”

Not all properties are showing significant growth, however. Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway reported June revenue of $6.9 million, a slight dip from the same month in 2015.

The Dayton racino’s year to date totals, though, are still above last year’s.

‘Difficult sledding’

The newly rebranded Jack casino in downtown Cincinnati reported $14.1 million in June revenue, a drop of $2 million from last year. The casino was closed for 40 hours when it changed over from the Horseshoe brand to Jack. In the process, it lost the total rewards program offered to all Caesars properties.

Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business Magazine, called that rewards program the “most valuable and sophisticated in the industry.”

“Even if you get to keep the names of your regular customers, you still don’t have access to those millions and millions of names that are on the total rewards program,” Gros said. “You have to start building your own database in a quick manner, and I’ll think they’ll find out that it’ll be difficult sledding for a while.”

One factor that hurt Jack’s bottom line was its 82 percent payout percentage on table games, which was higher than the other three casinos. As a result, it took in about half as much from its tables as Cleveland’s casino.

For the year, the Cincinnati casino’s revenue is nearly identical to 2015.

The state’s four casinos reported revenue totaling $414.3 million in the first six months of the year. That’s a slight increase over the first six months of 2015, when they took in $409.3 million.

Hollywood Columbus was the top-performing casino with $16.9 million in revenue.

Growth time

Miami Valley Gaming has reported revenue of more than $10 million for seven straight months, including a record month of $12.3 million May, which had one more weekend day than June.

“Coming off May, which was our best month ever, you start thinking, ‘How are we going to follow that up,’ but June ended up being pretty good,” Mancini said.

Miami Valley Gaming is expanding its entertainment options. It is hosting a Buckeye Bourbon & BBQ Festival on July 16, with live music, and an Eli Young Band concert on Aug. 4. MVG will set up a 1,000-seat venue for that indoor concert.

“We’re dipping our toes in the water here and expanding our offerings,” Mancini said. “Entertainment is one of them.”

Gros said the summer months are critical for gaming companies.

“Regional markets are continuing to grow,” he said. “This is the busy time of year, so they’ve really got to make their hay right now. You have to ramp up your marketing programs into the fall, when football starts up and there are a lot more choices for people.”

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