Ohio’s 4 casinos mark 1st full year of operations

FILE – This photo made
Monday, May 21, 2012, shows the Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio. If current revenues hold through
March, the four voter-approved casinos in Ohio will be on track for revenues of nearly $900 million
during the first full year they’ve all been operating. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

CINCINNATI (AP) — As the last of Ohio’s voter-approved
casinos celebrated its first birthday Monday, revenue projections for
the first full year of operations for all four gambling destinations are
falling far short of campaign promises.
Cincinnati’s casino
opened last March 4 with a massive fireworks display and music pumping
throughout downtown streets. But the Horseshoe Cincinnati and the
state’s three other casinos are not yet delivering on the hype,
according to revenue projections.
Through the end of January, the
casinos drew about $772 million since all four have been feeding into
state and local coffers, according to statistics with the Ohio Casino
Control Commission.
If current revenues hold through March, the
casinos will be on track for revenues of nearly $900 million during the
first full year they have all been operating. That would mean about $297
million in state tax revenues, which go toward each casino’s host city,
and the state’s 88 counties, and school districts.
Those figures
are far short of the 2009 campaign promising voters that revenues could
be as high as $1.9 billion annually, with $651 million in annual tax
revenues.
Cincinnati’s casino alone had projected it would draw
$300 million in revenue its first year, which would mean $100 million in
taxes. Through the end of January, the casino’s revenues were at $200.7
million, which amounts to about $66 million in tax revenues.
"The
ramp-up has been a little slower than what some had anticipated," Kevin
Kline, general manager of the casino, said Monday.
"We’re a new
business that continues to ramp up and continues to build, and we
consider year two to be a building year and to we expect the results to
get better."
Another promise during the 2009 campaign was that the
four casinos would create 34,000 jobs. But most of those were temporary
construction jobs, and the casinos currently employ about 5,800
full-time workers.
The state’s first casino opened in Cleveland in
May 2012, followed by Toledo that same month and then Columbus five
months after that.
During the 2009 campaign, supporters lauded the
casinos as a way to help solve the state’s budget woes. Opponents
criticized the 33 percent tax rate as lower than other states that have
approved gambling, said that estimates of economic benefits were
overblown and pointed to the societal ills, including gambling
addictions.
Two percent of the casinos’ revenues goes toward
helping people with gambling addictions, with six treatment centers
across the state offering free counseling. People who’ve developed
gambling addictions also can sign up for a voluntary exclusion program
prohibiting them from entering Ohio’s casinos.
Through last month, 748 people had signed up for the program, according to statistics with the Ohio
Casino Control Commission.
The
agency’s statistics also show a steady rise in problem gambling, said
Laura Clemens, program coordinator for the agency’s responsible gambling
unit.
"Gambling is coming closer and closer to people, and the numbers are definitely rising
accordingly," Clemens said.
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