Despite the cold and snow, the action heated up at the area’s two casinos in January, as each posted revenue increases compared with the month before.
Revenue rose 2.9 percent to $10.2 million last month at slots-only Scioto Downs Casino & Racetrack, while the take grew 1.8 percent to $18.3 million at Hollywood Casino Columbus.
Operators of both gambling halls were happy with the results.
“It was a great month, especially with all the snow and rain and cold weather we had,” said Troy Buswell, general manager of the Scioto Downs “racino,” after the numbers were released Thursday by the Ohio Lottery Commission.
Bob Tenenbaum, spokesman for Hollywood Columbus, said: “I think it’s an indication we’re listening to our customers and continuing to make adjustments to the mix.”
Earlier this week, Hollywood Columbus announced it will add six poker tables, for a new total of 36, and will gradually reduce its slot machines by about 500.
Combined revenue was down 6.1 percent to $53.2 million at the state’s three Las Vegas-style casinos, with all of the losses posted by the Cleveland casino.
Horseshoe Cleveland revenue fell 15.8 percent in January to $20.7 million, while revenue was up 0.7 percent to $14.3 million at Hollywood Toledo.
“Even though Cleveland, a huge market, declined, the rest of the state was up and was able to compensate,” said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He added that Hollywood Columbus “looks like they’re finding their feet and moving in the right direction, and the changes they’re making with their slots and [poker] will help.”
The slots at Hollywood Columbus earned $11.2 million in January, which equals an average daily win of $124 for each of the 3,015 slot machines, up from $115 the previous month, according to the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
Timothy Wilmott, president of Penn National Gaming, the parent company of Hollywood Columbus, recently stated “our competitor in Columbus outspent us 4 to 1 in the month of December with promotional slot play” and said the casino would “respond” to this.
It did, offering about $1.5 million in free slot play in January, a 92 percent increase from December.
This was about half the $3 million in promotional slot play Scioto Downs provided customers in January. Its 2,116 slot machines earned an average of $155 per day.
“I think the value we offer our guests compared to our competitors is quite good,” Buswell said.
The payout on the slots at Scioto Downs was 91.6 percent, and it was 91.1 percent at Hollywood Casino. Columbus remains the only Ohio city with competing gambling venues.
Horseshoe Cincinnati will open in March, and the state’s six other racinos are scheduled to open by the end of 2014.
“It is an advantage if you’re the only shop in town,” Buswell said. “But we’ve always said we’re happy to have Hollywood in the market. They’re a great operator and understand how to penetrate and build a market.”