Playing blackjack or Double Diamond slot machines and fighting this winter's polar vortex did not prove to be a winning combination for most of Ohio's casinos last month.
Playing blackjack or Double Diamond slot machines and fighting this winter’s polar vortex did not prove to be a winning combination for most of Ohio’s casinos last month.
Across most of Ohio, gambling revenue was down in January compared with December and on a year-over-year basis among the gambling venues that have been open for more than a year.
“Clearly, the weather affected the casinos,” said Bob Tenenbaum, spokesman for Hollywood Casino Columbus. “But it affected all of retail and everyone in the entertainment and food and beverage industries.”
Revenue was down 16.4 percent, to $15.27 million, at Hollywood Casino Columbus from the previous January, the Ohio Casino Control Commission reported. It was down 7.3 percent from December.
At Scioto Downs Casino & Racetrack, revenue was down 4.6 percent, to $9.69 million, from the previous January, the lottery commission said.
“The frigid temperatures and snow events played a big part in attendance this month, but that aside, we were very pleased with our overall results for January,” said Ashley Redmon, spokeswoman for Scioto Downs.
Revenue was down at the slots-only racino 11.7 percent in January compared with December.
“Weather is a factor. We’ve seen it happen in other parts of the country as well ... with bad winter storms,” said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Increased competition is another factor, he said. Two racinos — Miami Valley Gaming in Lebanon and Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield, near Cleveland — opened in December.
“They could create more demand, but I wouldn’t bank on it,” Schwartz said of these openings and the three other Ohio racinos scheduled to open this year. “It seems intuitive that the market isn’t expanding by leaps and bounds.”
Two other casinos also experienced declines in January. Revenue at Horseshoe Casino Cleveland was down 19.5 percent, to $16.64 million, from the previous year; at Hollywood Casino Toledo, revenue was down 19.3 percent, to $11.53 million.
Revenue was up 14.6 percent, to $16.23 million at the state’s fourth Las-Vegas-style casino, Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, which opened on March 4.
“But that’s still low compared to what they had before,” said Alan Silver, an Ohio University assistant professor of restaurant, hotel and tourism and a former casino executive.
The economy and holiday season also contributed to lower revenue totals, Silver said.
“Everyone goes into debt buying presents and maxes out their credit cards. And then the bills come due in January, and people don’t have the discretionary funds for a night out at a casino and dinner,” he said.
The weather had a direct impact on activity at two casinos in northern Ohio. Horseshoe Cleveland was closed for 37 hours on Jan. 6 and 7 because of weather issues, while Hollywood Toledo was closed for more than 51 hours between Jan. 5 and 7.
The CEO of parent company Penn National Gaming said Hollywood Casino Columbus is still ramping up and gaining customers.
“We were recently in Columbus, and they told us new (players) card signups were still over 10,000 a month and there are over 300,000 active accounts in our database there,” Timothy Wilmot recently said during a call with analysts.
He called this “a healthy sign.”