Gamblers didn't spend much more when a fifth casino opened for business in December.What does that say about the growth potential of Cincinnati's gaming market?
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CORRECTION: The original version of this story had an incorrect explanation for reduced December revenue at Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati. The story has been updated with the correct explanation.
CINCINNATI - Greater Cincinnati welcomed a fifth gaming competitor in December, but total gambling revenue barely changed from November, based on figures released by state regulators this week.
When Indiana numbers came out Friday morning, WCPO combined them with figures released by the Ohio Casino Control Commission and Ohio Lottery Commission earlier this week. The numbers showed total gambling revenue reached $51.3 million for the five casinos closest to Cincinnati last month. That’s down 0.7 percent, or $346,000, compared to November’s totals at four casinos.
The region’s newest property, a Miami Valley Gaming racino in Lebanon, generated $5.7 million in its debut month, good enough to place fourth among Tri-State gaming rivals.
A racino is gambling facility with video lottery terminals but no table games next to a horse racing track. Miami Valley is the fourth to open in Ohio. A second racino is planned for Cincinnati at Belterra Park in Anderson Township, formerly known as River Downs.
The new racinos join four existing casino properties vying for Tri-State market share. December figures show all but one of the properties - Belterra Casino Resort - shed some revenue in the debut month of Miami Valley Gaming.
Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg remained the market leader, with $17.1 million in revenue, down 10 percent from November and 72 percent less than a year ago. Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati finished second at $14.2 million, followed by Belterra with $10.2 million.
The last place finisher, Rising Star Casino in Rising Sun, Ind., generated $4.1 million in December revenue, down 17 percent from the prior month 62 percent less than its year-ago performance.
Horseshoe Cincinnati turned in the worst month in its history in December, with a 19 percent revenue dip from November. But General Manager Kevin Kline said the new racino in Warren County had only a minimal impact on his downtown property.
He blamed the reduced revenue on two bad weather weekends and a lucky streak by high-stakes players who reduced Horseshoe's “hold” on table games for the month. The hold is the percentage of the total wagers that the casino keeps for itself. Figures from the Ohio Gaming Control Commission shows Horseshoe Cincinnati held 9.2 percent of the $31 million bet at its tables in December. Its average hold for the year is more than 16 percent. The higher percentage would have generated about $2.1 million in additional revenue for Horseshoe.
"It was good to have winners,” Kline said.
Ohio casino revenue is falling short of expectations laid out by the Kasich administration, which estimated casino revenue would reach $957.7 million in the fiscal year that started July 1, or $79.8 million a month. Six months into the fiscal year, casino revenue stands at $415.5 million, or $69.2 million.
When it opened in March, Horseshoe Cincinnati projected annual revenue of $300 million. It now stands at $184.3 million through ten months.
“It’s a building process,” said Kline. “In many cases, it takes three years to get a business stabilized. We had a very nice ramp up this year. We’ve got new competition coming into the marketplace. We’ve got a very solid foundation. Nothing’s moved us off our mark. We think the business still has the potential to get to what we said.”