Ohio Casinos Fall $1bn Short Of Campaign PromiseMarch 10, 2014 12:47 pm
On March 4th, 2014, the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati celebrated its first year in operation, which also represented the first full year the state’s four casinos have been opened for business. The day was marked by fireworks and festivities, but dampening spirits was the fact Ohio’s gambling industry has yet to deliver the type of revenues predicted in a 2009 campaign promise to bring gambling to the state.
Initially, annual casino revenues were forecast to reach as high as $1.9 billion, with the state then receiving around $651 million in annual tax fees. Over the past year, however, Ohio’s casinos have generated just $839 million in revenues, with $376.7 million in taxes subsequently directed towards counties, cities, schools and other projects.
Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino alone forecast $300 million in revenues during its first year of operation, with $100 million of that tally then being collected by the state in taxes. However, the casino’s revenues reached just $200.7 million by the end of January, resulting in $66 million in state tax revenues. Commenting on its first anniversary, the casino’s general manager, Kevin Kline, said:
“The ramp-up has been a little slower than what some had anticipated. 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 we expect the results to get better.”
During Ohio’s 2009 casino campaign, gambling proponents held up casinos as a cure for the state’s budget shortfalls, although anti-gambling groups at the time dismissed the forecasts as overblown, while also pointing out possible social ills arising from a casino industry, including gambling addiction. In addition, the 5,800 full-time workers currently employed in Ohio’s casinos has fallen dramatically short of the 34,000 casino related jobs predicted in the campaign.
“What I think we’ve seen is a lot of false promises here. They can’t hit the numbers that they promised. They lied,” said American Policy Roundtable VP Rob Walgate, a conservative anti-gambling group.