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Published: Monday, 4/8/2013

Ohio casinos see March increases in betting

BLADE STAFF

COLUMBUS — Spring fever appeared to hit Ohio’s casinos in March as all three existing venues saw bounces in betting.

They were also joined by a new kid on the block in Cincinnati as Ohio hit its full complement of four voter-approved Las Vegas-style casinos.

Toledo’s riverfront Hollywood Casino saw a 20.9 percent jump in taxable wagering dollars in March. It took in $17.8 million, up more than $3 million from February. The casino, however, was overshadowed by all three of its brethren, including newcomer Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati, which opened its doors on March 4 and took in $21 million for the rest of the month.

So far, total wagering minus payouts — and the 33 percent state tax attached to it — have come in below what had been projected to voters when they were sold on bringing 24-hour gambling to the state for the first time.

In the meantime, competition continues to increase beyond what was known at the time of the 2009 vote. Scioto Downs near remains the only racetrack with a slots parlor attached. Thistledown near Cleveland will become the second on Tuesday.

The tracks and their slot-like “video lottery terminals” were approved by the General Assembly rather than by voters.

On the same day the Ohio Casino Control Commission announced the latest revenue numbers, the state Department of Taxation announced that $62.9 million in wagering tax revenue had been deposited into various funds benefiting counties, schools, cities, and others from the January-through-March collections.

All counties split their share of the pot, but Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati received a greater share for serving as hosts to the four voter-approved casinos.

Lucas County and Toledo each received $608,895 from the county’s slice of the pie, and the city received $3.1 million more as host city.

School districts will not receive their portions of the tax revenue until after the first six months of the year.



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