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Ohio Casino Revenue Remains Flat

Whether it's the economy, competition, or just a lack of risk taking, Ohio casino revenue remains flat. Ohio casino gamblers spent about $70-million last month, about the same level as October. As revenues fall short of projections, cities, towns and schools see smaller jackpots. Tama Davis of the Casino Control Commission says since the start of Ohio's new budget year in July, gamblers have spent $350-million at casinos in Toledo, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. If those spending patterns continue through next June, gross revenues would total $840-million, or about $100-million short of state budget projections.

"So we are a little off track is what we're seeing on the revenues to this point. But, again we still have seven months of reporting of revenue. So it's hard to say how close of an estimate that will actually be," says Davis.

During the campaign to allow gambling, Ohio tax officials projected the casinos would generate as much as $1.9 billion a year. The number is important because a third of the gross gambling revenues are taxed by the state. And that money goes to local governments and school districts. Cutting into casino revenue are horse race tracks like Scioto Downs which now have slot machines. Casino spokesman Bob Tenenbaum says Penn National Gaming is still delving into whether Scioto Downs is siphoning potential customers from the casino and crimping revenues. "Obviously we look at the numbers every month, we look at them everyday. But, our goal is to over time establish better in our minds exactly who our customers are and where there is potential to build business," says Tenenbaum. At the Casino control commission Davis too urges caution in projecting casino revenues. She describes Ohio as a "maturing" gaming market. "We believe it's going to take a year of having all four casinos open to really see how the casinos perform from year to year. So that would be March of 2014," says Davis. Four more sites with video lottery terminals are also scheduled to open around the state. So, eventually, Ohio gamblers can choose among four casinos or seven racinos