Free ride over at Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati?

Revenue growing as promotional spending falls

CINCINNATI - Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati cut back on the free spins in September, but retained its title as Ohio’s top-grossing casino.

New figures from the Ohio Casino Control Commission show Cincinnati’s downtown casino generated $19.8 million in September, up 3.1 percent from August. It edged out the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland by $305,000 to be Ohio’s top-grossing casino for the second straight month.

Hollywood casinos in Columbus and Toledo each had their worst months of the year, with Toledo dipping 11 percent month over month to $14.1 million and Columbus falling 7 percent to $15.7 million.

The Horseshoe properties irritated rivals this summer when promotional spending surged in an attempt to lure new customers to try the Cincinnati and Cleveland properties. But the strategy appears to have worked for Horseshoe Cincinnati, which pumped adjusted gross revenue to a six-month high in September even as it reduced promotional spending by 36 percent to $4.2 million.

“I’ve never seen an industry so desperate to give away its bottom line,” Penn National Gaming CEO Peter Carlino told analysts in July. That’s when Horseshoe’s combined “slot promotional spend” at Cleveland and Cincinnati peaked at more than $13 million.

The Cincinnati property ramped up promotional spending in June, July and August to the point where it accounted for 50 percent of adjusted gross revenue from slot machines during those months. In September, the $4.2 million promotional spend accounted for 31 percent of slots revenue.

With three quarters in the books, Ohio casinos have raked in $617.8 million in adjusted gross revenue in 2013.

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