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Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 4/8/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

GAMBLING REBOUND

Hollywood Casino grabs $17.4M revenue in March

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Monthly revenue at Hollywood Casino Toledo rebounded in March to the highest tally in a year.

The casino pulled in about $17.4 million in adjusted gross revenue in March, up from $15.3 million in February and $11.5 million in January.

In each of this year’s first three months the casino was forced to close for a period of time because of snowy weather. On March 12, the casino shut its doors for 11 hours during a Level 3 snow emergency in Lucas County.

March’s total marks the casino’s biggest month since March, 2013, when it posted $17.8 million in revenue.

All of Ohio’s casinos — in Toledo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus — saw revenue climb last month over February reports. The four sites brought in a combined $79.6 million in March compared to $66.8 million in February, according to numbers released Monday by the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

The months after the holiday season are typically slower for gaming sites because people don’t have as much money to spend on entertainment, said Tama Davis, a commission spokesman.

In addition to that post-holiday hesitancy, the snowy, frigid winter may have kept gamblers home, especially during the harshness of January and February, Ms. Davis said.

Another benefit came from a quirk in the calendar. March boasted five weekends, giving customers a bonus weekend to head to the casinos.

“We know there’s more traffic in the properties when there are more weekends,” Ms. Davis said.

The state’s four casinos continue to experiment with promotions, testing what attracts customers in each market.

Ms. Davis pointed to the Toledo casino’s Marquee Millionaire slot tournament, which began in March and wraps up on Friday. The four-week event features weekly slot tournaments in which the four Toledo winners qualify to participate in a May championship in Las Vegas.

“They are doing things to figure out their markets and how to get more people inside,” Ms. Davis said.

Toledo casino spokesman John McNamara, who refused to comment on revenues, said the tournament is something new for Penn National Gaming sites.

“We thought that this would be a huge hit for the area,” he said. “We … are always trying to do something fun, bring something new and exciting.”

He said he didn’t know how many slot players participated in the local tournaments.

The nascent Ohio casino industry faces competition from racinos, making it more difficult to project revenue until there’s a longer operational history to review, said Alan Silver, an assistant professor in Ohio University’s restaurant, hotel, and tourism program.

Four racinos are open now, and a total of seven will be open throughout the state by the end of the year.

“The whole landscape is changing,” Mr. Silver said.

Given the evolving gaming environment, he was impressed by the March gaming revenues.

“The numbers look really, really good to me. … I was almost anticipating that we could have another decline, there could be a flat showing there,” he said. “But it’s really picked up across the state.”

He credits the bump to better weather and casinos’ efforts to build customer loyalty. The numbers seem to indicate the Toledo casino is “developing a loyal base right now,” he said.

“Everyone’s got their own little niche and their own little strategy for what they think is going to work best,” Mr. Silver said. “Whatever Toledo’s doing they are doing quite well, and they are going to build on that.”

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.



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