Ohio Casinos See Revenues Improve

One of the worst winters in decades on the eastern part of the U.S. hammered down profits at Ohio’s four casinos and at its racinos. March saw casinos such as the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland (l.) and Hard Rock Rocksino, stick their heads out of the winter snow and not see their shadows, reversing a cold trend that continued until February.

After a cold, cold winter that saw Ohio’s four casino resorts and its racinos’ revenues plunge when gamblers stayed home, the revenues of casinos such as the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland and the Hard Rock Rocksino at Northfield Park are ticking up.

The Horseshoe’s March revenues were 21 percent higher than in February, although still 13 percent lower than the same month last year. Several times during the freeze the Horseshoe closed its doors for several hours.

Together, the four casino resorts brought in $79.3 million, 19 percent higher than February.  Some industry experts point out that comparing this year’s casinos revenues to last year’s will yield little real data, since racinos have been coming online and are taking some profits from the casinos.

Nonetheless, racinos lost their share of profits to the cold weather. For example, the Hard Rock Ricksino’s revenues in February were 20 percent lower than they were in March. The Hard Rock is the highest grossing of Ohio’s racinos.

Racinos in the Buckeye State have been trying to gin up business by offering more dancing and live entertainment. As one racino spokesman observed recently to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “We draw 900 people on the two nights. It’s hard to find clubs doing these kind of nights, but a casino has to do something different to keep bringing the people in.”

Some visitors concede that they don’t visit casinos to gamble, but to dance and hang out with friends.

Some gaming experts say this trend will continue as gaming approaches saturation in some markets. Different kinds of entertainment options attract different demographics, with some forms of entertainment luring seniors and other forms attracting younger people who want to dance or listen to live music.

Nick Kostis, owner of a comedy club in Cleveland, observes, “There’s still a difference between entertainment at a casino and a club that specializes in one particular thing. The experience and the customer tend to be different, as are the acts – so they can coexist in most cases.”

Some venues, particularly the Hard Rock Rocksino, specialize in its own brand of musical entertainment, a brand that is different from most casinos.

Midweek the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland offers a Shaken & Stirred Ladies Night when women themed drinks are offered at a discount, but also live music at the bar and wine flights at competitive prices.

According to Jamie Brown, vice president of marketing at Caesars, “We’re finding in our marketing that people want more fun and are just expecting more out of the gambling experience. People are always asking us, ‘Why don’t you guys have a band?’”