The state fiscal year ended June 30th and Racing and Gaming administrator Brian Ohorilko expects once the final numbers are in, gambling revenues at the state-licensed casinos will drop slightly from last year. “I suspect we’ll be down a percent-and-a-half from last year,” Ohorilko says.
“I talked to some of the operators as to what they think were some of the reasons, some of the things I have heard is last year there was a pretty mild winter, we had a typical winter this year in Iowa and that certainly affected some of the numbers in December, January.”
Some of the eastern Iowa casinos told Ohorilko they saw impact from new video lottery terminals across the river. “Illinois had passed some legislation to increase the number of V-L-T’s that are placed in that state, and those are slowly being implemented in various bars in that state,” Ohorilko says.
Flooding in parts of Iowa also caused some problems for casinos. “It certainly will have an impact…Davenport did have to close for a few days or at least contemplated closing, and that will certainly affect the numbers at the end of the fiscal year,” according to Ohorilko.
Gambling revenues hit just over $1.4-billion in the 2012 fiscal year, which was the second best year ever behind 2008. When it comes to operations in the new fiscal year, Ohorilko told the Racing and Gaming Commission during their meeting today in Altoona that there was very little action in the legislative session this year that impacts the 18-state licensed casinos.
There was one change that will significantly reduce the number of DCI agents assigned the casinos over the next three years. Ohorilko doesn’t know how that change will immediately impact casinos.
“It’s tough to tell, from a security point of view, the commission’s goal is that there will not be any impact,” Ohorilko says. “Security is one of the responsibilities of the commission so that we maintain the integrity of gaming.” He says each casino will handle the change based on their needs.
“Just because DCI agents may not be assigned at the properties, I think that the expectation will be that it’s supplemented with either additional security officers or local law enforcement in those communities,” Ohorilko says. “And I think it will be different depending on the location of the facility. For example, in Bettendorf the local police station is within walking distance of that facility.”
While he says law enforcement may be located farther away at other properties. Overall Ohorilko says he expects the facilities to be able to handle the change.