How’d They Do That? Ohio Casinos Break July Records

Ohio’s four casinos collectively broke records for gaming revenue in the month of July, despite the impact of Covid-19—or because of the virus’ impact on other entertainment options. Hollywood Casino Toledo (l.) has a record month. But now that Detroit’s casinos are open, the revenue picture may change.

How’d They Do That? Ohio Casinos Break July Records

Last month, Ohio’s four casinos—Hollywood Toledo, Hollywood Casino Columbus, Jack Cleveland Casino and Jack Cincinnati Casino—in aggregate broke all previous gaming records for the Buckeye State.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission, which reports those revenues as well as the taxes they pay to the state, said the collective return for July was $86 million, the highest total since the fourth property became operational in 2013. The previous record of $84.3 million was set in March 2013.

What’s remarkable about these figures is that they were reached when all four casino resorts were dealing with the effects of Covid-19, returning from state-mandated lockdowns with fewer customers, fewer machines and almost no amenities (the casinos returned to life in June, so July was their first full month of operations since the reopening).

The icing on the cake was Hollywood Toledo’s $33.3 million in revenue, the highest monthly amount recorded for a single casino in Ohio.

The big question is: Why did they do so well?

Jessica Franks, spokeswoman for the Ohio Casino Control Commission, has her theories. She told GGB News that the commission talks about revenue, rather than profitability.

“We’re really a clearinghouse,” she said. “Part of our large numbers may have been driven by the Toledo Casino, which recorded $33.3 million. The high-water mark before that was $26 million for Cleveland. July was a weird case scenario and Toledo was very much an outlier.” The other properties took in closer to $18 million, she said.

“Our guess right now is (it was because) the Detroit casinos in Michigan were been closed until last week. Although the tribal casinos were open in Michigan, for those living in Detroit it may have been closer for them to go to Toledo. It worked. We’ll be interested to see what happens now that those properties have now reopened,” said Franks.

Unlike some casinos whose profitability was pushed up by the fact that they opened with limited amenities, Ohio’s revenue numbers as reported by the commission are solely from gaming. “We don’t report anything except gaming revenue,” said Franks. “Nothing they may derive from restaurants or other amenities such as concerts, which was something properties would hold before Covid. These are purely revenues derived from the slot machines and table games.”

The Ohio casinos are operating with a significantly reduced level of staff, “but how payroll would impact those numbers I could not tell you,” Franks said.

Ohio also has a number of racinos, but they’re overseen by the Ohio Lottery and the state racing commission. Their figures will be released by those bodies. The racinos offer only video lottery terminals and no table games.

August’s numbers may give a truer picture of the casinos’ longer-term health, but meanwhile, they’re enjoying the surge, though they’re operating “under limited and significant protocols,” Franks said. “A lot of movie theaters aren’t open and there are no concerts.

“I would guess that for folks who have entertainment dollars, their options are fairly limited and perhaps they’re choosing to go the casinos—that’s one place where they can have some fun.”

Articles by Author: David Ross

David D. Ross edits the Escondido Times-Advocate and Valley Roadrunner newspapers. A freelance journalist for over 40 years, Ross is knowledgeable about San Diego's backcountry and has written on tourism in Julian, Palomar Mountain, San Diego Safari Park—and the area’s casinos. He has a master’s degree in military history from Norwich University.