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Published: Wednesday, 10/10/2012

Wagering falls, but city to rake in $1.2M from casino for 3rd quarter

BY ROBERTA REDFERN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hollywood Casino took in $215.2 million during June, its first full month in operation.
Hollywood Casino took in $215.2 million during June, its first full month in operation.
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As the host city for northwest Ohio’s four-month-old casino, Toledo will receive more than $1.2 million in tax revenues from payouts during 2012's third quarter, according to figures the Ohio Department of Taxation released Tuesday.

The taxation figures were released along with with September gambling data from the Ohio Casino Control Commission that shows a continuing drop in month-to-month wagering.

Combined gambling at table games and slot machines at Hollywood Casino Toledo and Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland fell by about 5 percent in September and was about 20 percent below June, the two casinos’ first full month of operation, state data shows. Gamblers bet a total of $331.9 million at the two casinos in September. That number is down from $417.8 million in June and $349.8 million in August, the commission reported.

But state gaming officials say all four Ohio casinos need to have been running for a while longer before they can set a “normal” revenue and wager schedule.

Hollywood Casino Toledo opened May 29, about two weeks after the Cleveland facility. Penn National Gaming opened Hollywood Casino Columbus, the largest of the four planned casinos, on Monday. Rock Ohio Caesar's Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati is expected to open in the spring.

“From the beginning, we have been told by experts that we need a full year of all four casions open to have a really good benchmark to track projections. We are tracking from September to September to really have historical data,” said Tama Davis, a commission spokesman. “So to really have a good benchmark” with Cincinnati opening next year “puts us at the spring of 2014,” she said.

Hollywood Casino Toledo took in about $153 million last month, compared with $168.2 million in August. The casino took in $215.2 million during its first full month of operation, in June.

The casino, on the East Toledo riverfront near the Rossford border, paid out almost 91 percent of wagers last month, with the commission reporting gross revenue after payouts just shy of $16 million.

Horseshoe Cleveland had about a $2.8 million decline in wagering from August to September, dropping to $178.8 million from $181.6 million. Its revenue after payouts was $21.2 million in September.

The released numbers do not include nongambling sales, such as food, alcoholic beverages, and casino merchandise.

In response to the new figures, Jason Birney, vice president of marketing for Hollywood Casino Toledo, said the casino does not comment “on financials,” but that Penn National officials are “very pleased with the crowds we are seeing,” and that the casino welcomed its millionth visitor last month.

The Department of Taxation on Tuesday also released its third-quarter figure — July 1 through Sept. 3 — indicating that more than $39.4 million of the state's $120 million in casino revenue will be distributed to local governments and other recipients on Oct. 31.

About 33 percent of gross revenue from the casinos is distributed to counties, school districts, and other local governments across Ohio, the host cities, anti-gambling-addiction programs, horse-racing purses, the casino commission, and law enforcement training. Disbursement of funds earmarked for schools is set for Jan. 31.

As host city, Toledo will receive $856,701.18 from that pool and half of Lucas County's $383,299.76 share as one of Ohio's most populated cities. Lucas County will have the other half pumped into its coffers, neighboring Wood County will receive $220,142, and Fulton County about $74,000.

Jen Sorgenfrei, a spokesman for Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, said the casino revenue will go into the city's general fund “to keep us balanced,” but that the city did not forecast income from wager payouts.

“It's still a little new. I think you need a good solid year before forecasting trend for steady revenue stream you can rely on,” she said. “We knew there would be a bump, how much of a bump we’re not sure.” An Ohio Department of Taxation analysis predicted three years ago that the four casinos would generate about $673 million in annual taxes once all were up and running.

Contact Roberta Redfern at: rredfern@theblade.com or 419-724-6081.



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