Gaming levels off at high altitude; More Chicago shenanigans

Casino receipts are in for a quartet of states and they tell a similar tale: That gamblers are reining in their 2022 spending … but are still wagering (and losing) way more than three years ago. Hardly a picture of an ailing economy, at least as it pertains to gaming. The outlier was Illinois, flat with 2019 ($117 million) but up 9% from last year. Customers attended much more (10%) and spent slightly less (-1%). Traditional market leader Rivers Casino Des Plaines booked $48 million, a 17% surge, while rebranding continues to benefit Bally’s Quad Cities, vaulting 26% to $4.5 million. Hard Rock Rockford also came in at $4.5 million, while Par-A-Dice climbed 3.5% to $5 million.

It wasn’t a good month for the biggest chains, though. Penn Entertainment‘s Argosy Alton was down 8% to $3 million, its Hollywood Aurora slid 11% to $8 million but Hollywood Joliet grew 5% to $7.5 million. Harrah’s Metropolis slipped 6% to $5 million, Harrah’s Joliet tumbled 10% to $12 million and Grand Victoria slipped 5% to $13 million. DraftKings Casino Queen dipped 1.5% to $7 million to round out the picture.

Next door in Iowa, gambling win nosed up 1%, still 14.5% higher than 2019. Unlike Illinois, visitation was down (-3%) but spending was up (4%). The statewide gross was $147 million. Racinos did best, with Prairie Meadows grossing $20 million, an 11% leap, and Horseshoe Bluffs Run Park cantering in with $18 million, up 1%. The coffee achiever among pure casino plays was Ameristar Council Bluffs, bringing Penn $15.5 million for a 6% gain. Others within shouting distance were Riverside Casino & Golf Resort ($11 million, +4%), Rhythm City ($9 million, -6%), Diamond Jo Worth ($8.5 million, -1%) and Isle Waterloo ($8 million, flat), followed by a whole lotta also-rans.

Logging its biggest August ever, Ohio raked in $196 million, incrementally above last year but 19% higher than three years previous. Continuing to defy convention wisdom, table-less MGM Northfield Park continued to lead the Buckeye State with $24 million (+4%). Its nearest competitor was Hollywood Columbus, up 5% to $22 million. Jack Cleveland was flat, just below $22 million, while hard-charging Hard Rock Cincinnati banked $21 million, up 6%. Hollywood Toledo slipped 2% to $19 million. It was passed by Scioto Downs, flat but good for $2o million. Other tracks on the upswiwng included Miami Valley Gaming, up 6.5% to $19 million … and nobody else. Jack Thistledown slid 7.5% to $16 million, Belterra Park was down 5.5% to $8 million, and Hollywood Dayton ($12 million) and Hollywood Mahoning Valley ($13 million) dipped 2.5% and 3% respectively.

Before we leave Ohio, it should be noted that the first eight, conditional sports-betting licenses have been awarded, with Jacks Cleveland and Thistledown at the head of the queue. Others approved are the Cleveland Browns, the Columbus Crew, the Cincinnati Reds, the Muirfield Village Golf Club, Hollywood Toledo and Hollywood Mahoning Valley. That leaves 32 brick-and-mortar and 17 online books to be green-lit by January 1. The state will also be flooded with betting kiosks, with 819 retailers vying for 499 (!) locations. 41 Kroger stores have already been approved. We’ve never seen a state go as all-in with sports betting as Ohio.

Maryland outdid even Ohio with $169.5 million. (Flat vs. 2021 but 10% over 2019.) MGM National Harbor led the small pack with $72 million, up 6.5%, pursued by Maryland Live’s $57 million (-4.5%). Horseshoe Baltimore was a miserable $17 million (-4%). Hollywood Perryville also suffered, stumbling 7.5% to $7 million. Ocean Downs leapt 7% to $10.5 million but Rocky Gap Resort slipped 2% to $6 million.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) is up to her old tricks. She’s created a Casino Community Advisory Council of 15 “issue experts” and four “neighborhood representatives” to advise on Bally’s Chicago. The last time Lightfoot went through a charade like this, she bypassed her advisory board and peremptorily selected Bally’s. As Alderman Brian Hopkins (D) put it, “She gave us a cat toy to bat across the carpet while she was in the back room making her secret deals.” The new council is intended to provide quarterly advice on various fait accompli, such as the permanent casino and the temporary one in Medinah Temple.

Of 42 action items (like curtailing outdoor musical performances), River North Residents Association prexy Brian Israel sighed, “I think we’ll get some things. Others will be difficult and expensive and take a long time, and some others will probably be off the table. But we have to do the best we can on behalf of our constituents. We’re appreciative that the administration is at least open to having a dialogue with the community.” Fuming that the new council was a rubber stamp, Alderman Brendan Reilly (D) vented, “The lack of downtown stakeholders from the 42nd Ward and the exclusion of important neighborhood groups is frustrating. It’s pretty clear the administration doesn’t have much interest in hearing from those people who are most directly impacted by the temporary and permanent casinos.”

Jottings: ESPN has a slew of new and/or more-prominent faces as it brings sports-betting programming to the fore in a major initiative. These include former quarterback and Playboy hottie Anita Marks, who gets wider exposure with a second radio show … Missouri punters have been trying to cyber-stampede Kansas‘ new sports betting. A geolocation service tracked 2.3 million online bets and found 104K to be illegitimate ones hailing from the Show-Me State … Bad news for Full House Resorts: Its temporary casino in Waukegan won’t open until December, yet another delay. Expect a candid explanation from CEO Dan Lee at the next earnings call … In case you missed it, Station Casinos has begun tearing down Texas Station, Fiesta Rancho, Fiesta Henderson and unloved Days Inn at Wild Wild West. The latter’s 20 acres will be combined with 80 adjacent, Station-owned acres for an unspecified project—hopefully a baseball stadium and hopefully not the second coming of Viva, the metaresort nobody asked for … Caesars Entertainment keeps plugging away with the Horseshoe-branded replacement of shipwrecked Isle Grand Palais in Lake Charles. Promised are a new hotel, new restaurants and a land-based casino, praise be … Resurgence of Covid-19 in the areas surrounding Macao has experts gloomy about Golden Week gambling revenue. So what else is new?

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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