Hollywood Casino GM looks for growth in a post-Horseshoe environment

Hollywood Casino to use events, loyalty to compete

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. - One week before the opening of Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, the general manager of the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Ind. is convinced that his property can see a revenue increase from new competition less than 30 miles away.

"We're exploring what the market is going to be like in a post-Horseshoe environment," said Todd George, who took charge of the Hollywood property in September. "How much new organic growth is going to come in there? Is there enough of a draw to make this more of a destination type market where people come in for several days and visit multiple casinos while they're here?"

George said Hollywood will play to its strengths, including familiarity among local gamblers, free parking, the ability to smoke while playing and traditional slot machines - not the digital devices prevalent in Ohio casinos. Promotional activities like free concerts have already proven successful at boosting Hollywood Casino gaming revenue by more than 5 percent, George said.

"When I got here the calendar was pretty standard," he said. "Some of the variety we're showing, it's being received favorably."

A $5 million hotel renovation is slated for completion in May, while a new Lawrenceburg convention center could add meaningfully to casino bookings next year. Figures from the Indiana Gaming Commission show the Hollywood property dropped to $28.2 million in January, compared with $33.3 million a year ago. But George thinks the property could climb back above $30 million in the months ahead.

"Right now, with three casinos open, we're at 60 percent of the market," he said. "Our goal is to remain a market leader."

The publisher of a gaming industry magazine said Indiana casinos are likely to see a 10 to 15 percent revenue dip when Horseshoe opens, but Ohio's smoking ban could be an ace in the hole for Hollywood Casino.

"While smokers aren’t a big part of American society they’re a much bigger part of gambling society," said Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business Magazine in Las Vegas. "There are some estimates that as much as 33 percent of gamblers smoke. So, if you don’t allow that in your casino and another casino down the road does allow it, that’s where they’re going to go."

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