Warm spring in the Midwest; Vegas Vic gets political

Don’t believe anyone who says the economy is bad: Casino takings are up all across the Midwest. The biggest gain was in Ohio, where casino win rose 7%, even though players continue to blow off Jack Cleveland ($18 million, -8%). Statewide leader Hard Rock Rocksino grossed $21.5 million, up 6%. Close behind was Hollywood Columbus, up 9% for $21 million. Hollywood Toledo ($18 million) was flat, while Jack Cincinnati rose 9%, to $18.5 million. Out at the raciness business was just as good with Hollywood Dayton ($9.5 million) registering an eye-popping 21% gain. Hollywood Mahoning Valley ($10 million) was up 13.5%, while Eldorado ResortsScioto Downs gained 9% for a $15 million gross.

Other racinos doing well were Dan Gilbert‘s Thistledown, grossing $10.5 million on an 11.5% increase. Miami Valley Gaming rode a 13.5% improvement to a $14 million haul. Finally, Belterra Park made a 14% gain to a $7.5 million finish.

Missouri casinos saw 2% higher visitation and 4% freer spending, lifting the statewide gross 6%. Ameristar Kansas City ($18 million) was microscopically down but all other casinos in the Show-Me state showed revenue-positive results. Statewide leader was Ameristar St. Charles, up 5% to $25 million. Pinnacle Entertainment was also 5% up at River City, pulling in $21 million. Penn National Gaming-managed properties fared well. Argosy Riverside, in Kansas City, was up 9.5% to $14.5 million. Hollywood St. Louis did even better, grossing $23 million for a 9% increase. (Selling this money-spinner was one of the stupidest of Gary Loveman‘s many stupid actions as Caesars Entertainment CEO.)

Tropicana Entertainment had a good month at that hard nut to crack, Lumiere Place. It was 7.5% up for $14 million in takings. All four Isle of Capri Casinos did between 2% and 7% better, grossing an aggregate $25 million while Affinity Gaming‘s Mark Twain Casino was up 4% for  a $3 million gross.

In Indiana, admissions were slightly down but spend-per-visitor rose 5%. Only two casinos were revenue-negative: Ameristar East Chicago ($21 million, -3%) and ill-starred Majestic Star II, down 8.5% to $6 million. Majestic Star I, clearly the more appealing of the two vessels, pocketed $9.5 million, a 10% increase. Hollywood Lawrenceburg ($16 million) was flat but Full House ResortsRising Star was up 3.5% to $5 million. Caesars dominated the Hoosier State market, grossing $39.5 million at Horseshoe Hammond (+2%) and $23 million (+4%) at Horseshoe Southern Indiana. Pinnacle’s Belterra had an exceptional month, up 18,5% to $10 million.

Life was good for French Lick Resort, which slurped up $8.5 million, a 15.5% improvement. Ongoing construction didn’t impede business at Tropicana Evansville, up 2% to $11.5 million. Boyd Gaming‘s Blue Chip staved off tribal competition from Michigan to gross $15 million, a 4% gain. At the racinos the slots were getting the better of the bettors. Indiana Downs grossed $26 million (+9.5%) and Hoosier Park climbed 7% to reach $21 million. Maybe all this good news is a passing phenomenon (we hope) but it’s good to see players opening their wallets to this extent.

* Advocates of any online-gambling bill that includes PokerStars just hit a stumbling block. The i-gaming giant is suffering guilt by association from its partnership with the recently raided Bicycle Casino card room. PokerStars isn’t targeted in the investigation but it could get tarred all thee same. Already, PokerStars is said to have pulled its lobbying efforts in Sacramento way (and parent Amaya is emphasizing its non-Internet products), way back. A deal is said to be “98%” finished but until PokerStars agrees to be punished for prior bad acts we don’t believe the longstanding impasse in the Legislature is going to be resolved.

* Nevada GOP fixers Paul and Sue Lowden are chagrined that iconic neon sign Vegas Vic, which they own, has been had his image hijacked by an outspoken political blogger named @VegasVictory with a fixation on Hillary Clinton. At least Sassy Sally and Wendover Will remain apolitical for the time being.

* Times must be tough at Casa de Shenandoah. Apparently lacking enough senior citizens interested in seeing how Wayne Newton lived, the tourist site is initiated kiddie excursions that “highlight the attraction’s beautiful exotic animals and provide exciting exhibits that all ages will enjoy.” Yes, you get to see Penguin Island, Monkey Manor and Wallaby World, just for starters. Just don’t make any clever plays on words involving Mr. Newton’s stranded Fokker jet.

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