Dayton racino enjoys strong opening weekend

Three-dozen job openings remain as harness racing gears up.

Dayton’s new racino posted big numbers for its opening weekend, recording nearly $1.9 million in net winnings during the four days it was open for business in August.

An even more impressive figure for Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway was this: $466.

That was the average amount it took in per slot machine per day, the highest total among the state’s six racinos, albeit in a very small sample set.

“Opening on a holiday weekend certainly helped matters,” Hollywood Gaming general manager Gary DeWitt said. “But overall, what’s been really encouraging is the guests really like what they see in regards to the look, the feel. We’ve had nothing but positive comments about the facility and that keeps us really motivated.”

The gaming industry keeps a close eye on the money won by video lottery terminal, or VLT, per day. The statewide average in August, as reported Monday by the Ohio Lottery, which oversees the racinos, was $215. Hollywood Gaming’s average was more than twice that amount, although it is expected to level off.

The racino opened with 1,010 slot machines in play, but has room to expand if its VLTs produce big numbers.

“We typically say if it’s north of 200 but less than 300 you’ve probably got the right number of units on the floor,” Penn National Gaming Chief Operating Officer Jay Snowden said. “Once you hit that $300 figure we look at adding units.

“Month 3, Month 4, if we’re still seeing win-per-units at sustained levels above $300 we would consider adding units to the floor here in Dayton.”

Hollywood Gaming, which is operated by Penn National, opened Aug. 28 after holding a four-hour controlled demonstration two days earlier. That invite-only event brought in about $120,000 and led to $10,000 donations to three local charities: Ronald McDonald House, United Rehabilitation Services and The Dayton Foundation.

Of the racino’s $1,864,519 in August net winnings — revenue remaining after payouts — $624,614 went to the Lottery Profits Education Fund.

The racino employs about 500 and currently has more than three dozen job openings, including postings for a blacksmith and a nurse. Harness racing debuts at the facility Oct. 3.

Big month for MVG

Miami Valley Gaming in Warren County, the Dayton racino’s closest competitor, also enjoyed a strong August. Its net winnings were $11,070,385 — its second-best month since opening last December. Its Win/VLT per day was a healthy $224 and its percent payout (92.13 percent) was the highest among all Ohio racinos.

MVG, which has nearly 1,600 slot machines, has surpassed $10 million in revenue in five of the nine months it has been open.

Statewide, the six racinos totaled $57.5 million in revenue. A seventh racino — Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course — is scheduled to open Sept. 17 near Youngstown. It also will be operated by Penn National Gaming.

All gambling venues benefited from the August calendar, which included five weekends.

The state’s four casinos totaled $70.7 million in revenue in August, an increase of nearly $3 million from July.

The Horseshoe Cincinnati had revenue of $16.2 million, according to the Ohio Casino Control Commission. That was nearly identical to its July total.

The effect Ohio gambling is having on its competion in southeast Indiana has become obvious. Hollywood Lawrenceburg, a casino located about 30 miles from downtown Cincinnati, reported $15.8 million in revenue in July. In July 2011, before legalized gambling debuted in Ohio, the Indiana casino had $38.6 million in taxable revenue.

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