Casino gambling isn’t a very old industry in Ohio. The state’s very first gambling destination, Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, experienced its ‘phase 1’ opening on May 14, 2012. Three more followed in the next year, along with over half a dozen racinos. Interestingly, casinos in Ohio outplayed the tracks, generating the highest Q1 revenue in their short history.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission‘s latest revenue reports for 2016 indicate a statewide AGR (adjusted gross revenue) of $211,336,400 from it’s four casinos in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo, each of which reported near equal amounts of $50-$55 million AGR.
Last year’s first quarter results were a bit lighter, totaling $205.2 million across the same four casinos. In 2014, the total Q1 AGR was $206 million, up from $193 million in Q1 2013. However, it’s worth noting that Horse Casino Cincinnati did not open until March of that year.
Why the Sudden Surge in Gambling’s Popularity?
If you live in Ohio, or have ever been there for any length of time during the winter months, you know it can get mighty frigid in the months of January, February and March. Temperatures (Fahrenheit) often drop into the single digits, if not negatives, and with that can come dangerous wintry conditions like ice, sleet and snow – not exactly ideal for traveling.
Carol Rimedio-Righetti, Commissioner of Hollywood Gaming Racino‘s Mahoning County, attributed the influx of gambling spend to a comparably mild season. “The winter was light,” Rimedio-Righetti simplified the boosted figures. “They were able to drive.”
Not once in the last three months of 2016 were any casinos in Ohio forced to close their doors due to hazardous winter weather. That hasn’t been the case in previous years.
But pleasant road conditions aren’t the only viable factor officials have pointed to. They also believe that the casinos are gaining preference due to a notable trend in table gaming.
Based on the laws of Ohio, casinos are permitted to host both slot machines and table games. Race tracks, on the other hand, can only install slot machines alongside their standard acceptance of pari-mutuel betting on live and simul-cast races.
Racinos Miss Out on Growing Table Games Revenue
The Q1 2016 revenue report shows that of the $211 million worth of revenue casinos in Ohio generated, about 67% came from a slot machines, which delivered a total AGR of $142 million. Table games accounted for the other 33%, bringing in $69 million. Traditionally, even in gambling meccas like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, slot machines account for a lot more than two-thirds of a casino’s win.
However, an overview of the Q1 results from each previous year clearly shows a sliding scale of increased interest in table games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette and craps. The ratio was about 20%-80% in Q1 2013, increasing to nearly 25%-75% in 2014, and hitting the 2/3 mark for the first time in 2015 with a 33.5%-$66.5% margin.
The popularity leveled off this year, sustaining nearly the exact same percentage ratio, meaning slot machines aren’t a dying breed by any means. But it has led Rimedo-Righetti to support drafting of an amendment that would bring table games to her hometown racino.
Who has the Loosest Slots in Ohio?
Last but not least, we’ll answer one burning question for those of you who still visit casinos in Ohio to play the slot machines. Based on the last three months of reporting, the loosest slot machines can be found at Horseshoe Cleveland. The casino had the highest payout percentage in January (92.18%) and March (92.42%), nearly tying Hollywood Columbus for 1st in February (91.57% compared to 91.59%).