The report for the end of the latest fiscal year shows a drop in the revenue generated by the 18 state casinos. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission report shows a drop of almost 78 million dollars — marking the second year in a row that revenue was off — for a total of $1.388 billion.
Iowa Gaming Association president, Wes Ehrecke, says weather was one factor for the drop off. “The brutal winter that we had, especially January and February — subzero temperatures, the whole Polar Vortex — kept a lot of people at home and kept people from doing a lot of things in the whole entertainment world,” Ehrecke says. “You don’t get those months back, you just can’t recover from that, and I think that contributed a lot.”
He says competition from outside the state also had an impact. “Illinois with their video gaming terminals that are located in bars and restaurants has certainly impacted some of the casinos on our eastern border,” he says. “Plus, I think there’s still a little bit of economic uncertainty.” He says the uncertainty has people spending less of their discretionary income on entertainment as they spend more on food, clothing, shelter and other priorities.
Ehrecke says he is not concerned about the drop, as he says there are new facilities in the works that should give the industry a boost. “There will be a new casino up in Sioux City, the Hard Rock Casino. Davenport as well as Bettendorf are both looking to go with land-based casinos. When you have additional amenities and an improved property, we believe that that will certainly help with the revenues of those respective areas,” Ehrecke says.
He says the socioeconomic report conducted for the Racing and Gaming Commission and released earlier this year had positive news for the industry. “That whole socioeconomic report I think was very promising in the fact that a very large percentage of people think that going to a casino is an acceptable form of entertainment, certainly many people do,” Ehrecke says. “Not only for the gaming portion, but for non-gaming type things, concerts, a comedy club, certainly fine dining,” Ehrecke says.
Ehrecke says the casinos will still continue to be an important part of the state’s economy. “I think overall still we are a very strong and stable industry — about a billion dollar annual economic impact. I believe the trends look favorable going forward,” Ehrecke says. Harrah’s Council Bluffs Casino and the Grand Falls Casino in Larchwood were the only two state—licensed facilities to see an increase in gross revenue. The fiscal year ended June 30th.
Here’s the full revenue report: Casino Fiscal year 2014 PDF