Hollywood Casino gambling grows slightly in January


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 today by the Ohio Casino Control Commission showed that Penn National Gaming, Inc.’s casinos in Toledo and Columbus both saw business increase in January while Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cleveland saw 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 just announced that it 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 its Raceway Park in Toledo to Dayton so that its new slots parlor won’t directly compete 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 proposal unveiled on Monday. Many school districts across the state would see largely flat funding under Mr. Kasich’s new funding formula while local governments are set to see modest increases after experiencing major cuts in the current budget.

A fourth casino, Horseshoe Cincinnati, is set to open on March 4 so the fiscal year beginning on July 1 will be the first with all four casinos operating.

Mr. Kasich’s budget predicts that casino wagering taxes, 33 percent of all bets after winnings are deducted, will total roughly $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 that voters approved.

Small amounts would also 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 increases to the continued rollout of racetrack slots parlors in the state.

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

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