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Published: 2/9/2013

Business perks up at casino in city, Penn’s other Ohio site

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
Hollywood Casino Toledo began in May. Horseshoe Cincinnati, the fourth casino, is to open March 4. Hollywood Casino Toledo began in May. Horseshoe Cincinnati, the fourth casino, is to open March 4.
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COLUMBUS — The holiday bump at Hollywood Toledo Casino carried over into the new year as wagering, especially at slot machines, grew slightly in January.

But the numbers are far from the business that Hollywood Toledo experienced in the two months after its late May opening.

Numbers released Thursday by the Ohio Casino Control Commission showed that Penn National Gaming Inc.’s casinos in Toledo and Columbus had increased business in January while Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland experienced a significant drop-off from December. That was Horseshoe’s best month since June, its first full month of operation.

Hollywood Casino took in nearly $14.3 million in adjusted gross revenue, bets minus winnings, in January, up less than 1 percent from $14.2 million in December. Its younger but bigger brother, Hollywood Columbus, was up nearly 2 percent from $17.9 million to nearly $18.3 million.

Hollywood Columbus has experienced heavy competition from the nearby slots parlor at Scioto Downs racetrack. Penn has announced plans to gradually remove 500 of its 3,015 slot machines and replace them with six poker tables, something Scioto Downs can’t offer.

“We currently have no plans to reduce the number of slot machines in Toledo,” said John McNamara, Hollywood Toledo’s marketing-operations manager.

The casino has 2,037 machines. Penn has asked the Ohio State Racing Commission to approve its plan to move Toledo’s Raceway Park to Dayton so it can open a slots parlor there without competing dircectly with the casino.

Mr. McNamara said the casino would not discuss revenue figures.

The Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland saw an 18.7 percent drop in business between December and January. Horseshoe took in $20.7 million in adjusted revenue, down from $24.5 million in December.

School districts and local governments are betting that revenues from the casinos will continue to pay off for them as many delve into details of Gov. John Kasich’s two-year budget plan unveiled on Monday. Many school districts statewide would see largely flat funding under the plan’s new funding formula while local governments would see modest increases after the major cuts in the current budget.

A fourth casino, Horseshoe Cincinnati, is to open March 4, so the fiscal year starting on July 1 will be the first with all four in operation.

Mr. Kasich’s budget predicts that casino wagering taxes, 33 percent of all bets after winnings are deducted, will total about $307 million in 2014 and $328 million in 2015. The vast majority of that will flow through the state budget to counties, school districts, and cities based on a formula included in the 2009 constitutional amendment approved by voters.

Small amounts would go to the attorney general, casino control commission, and problem-gambling programs.

In addition, Ohio Lottery proceeds earmarked for K-12 education are expected to leap nearly 21 percent next year to $841 million and by nearly 16 percent more in 2015 to $974 million. Mr. Kasich’s budget director, Tim Keen, has attributed much of those raises to the continued rollout of racetrack slots parlors in the state.

So far, Scioto Downs is the only one to run a “video lottery terminal” parlor, but more are to follow later this year.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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