Iowa casinos took in just under $22 million more in gross revenue for the fiscal year that ended in June compared to last year.
Iowa Racing and Gaming administrator Brian Ohorilko says the slight increase indicates the market for the 19 casinos is in good shape. “Total revenue increased about a percent and a half year-over-year. We did see a slight decrease in admissions — about a half-a-percent to one percent. But overall, the market was fairly stable,” Ohorilko says.
Gross revenue was $1.437 billion compared to $1.415 billion. The annual report shows there were 21, 538,433 people who visited the casinos in the last fiscal year, compared to 21,628,923 the previous year. On the revenue side, the new Wild Rose casino in Jefferson added nearly $27 million.
“The facility met market projections and was within the studies that the commission had conducted for them,” he says. The market studies showed the Jefferson casino would take away some of the revenue of other facilities, but Ohorilko says there doesn’t appear to be any dramatic impact. He says it is difficult to tell the impact with some of the other market conditions going on, but he says they didn’t see anything inconsistent with the studies on the gambling market.
Two casinos in eastern Iowa completed their move to land and got up and running near the end of the fiscal year. The Isle of Capri Bettendorf has moved to land, and the Rhythm City Casino in Davenport has moved off the river to the intersection of I-80 and I-74. “It’s too early to tell what impact we will see,” according to Ohorilko,”but I think it’s safe to say historically when facilities have moved from a riverboat to a land-based facility, that we have seen increases both in revenue and admissions.”
The Davenport casino owner said one of the reasons for the move was to create a better facility to compete with a new casino just across the border in Illinois.”We also would expect to see some shift from the out of state facility there in the Quad City market, just like we saw some of the Iowa revenue that had shifted the other direction when there was new construction,” Ohorilko says. Moving to land allows the casino operators to build hotels and other facilities to complement the gambling operation. Ohorilko says the Hard Rock Casino in Sioux City is a key example.
“Specifically at that facility, there is a fine dining restaurant, a buffet, a concert venue, hotels and other amenities that the previous facility in that market did not have,” Ohorilko says. “Those additional amenities have grown that market for that property and we see increased traffic.” The Hard Rock increased its gross revenue by around 13 million dollars this year.
“That facility did north of 80 million dollars this year, did very well year-over-year compared to what we have historically seen in that market,” according to Ohorilko.
The Hard Rock had gross revenues of 70.072 million dollars last year compared to 83.178 this year. Things are going so well that the Sioux city casino will seek permission to expand at the commission’s meeting Thursday. Ohorilko says Iowa’s weather is one other factor that can have an impact on casino revenues. Bad winter weather keeps people from going out.
“And especially if that weather occurs on a weekend. One off weekend will have an impact on overall revenue for the year. And not only that, depending on the number of weekends and the days of the week that those fall,” Ohorilko explains. He says he feels good about the position the industry is in and is looking forward to seeing how the changes at the casinos impact the new fiscal year.
Prairie Meadows in Altoona took in the most gross revenue at $182,515,752, followed by the Horshoe Casino in Council Bluffs at $175,623,055. The new casino in Jefferson had the lowest take , followed by the Lady Luck in Bettendorf with $27 million. Prairie Meadows has the most gamblers with 2,926,388. The Horshoe had 1,9996,594.