Local racinos rake in record profits, see dollar signs ahead in sports betting

Dayton and Warren County facilities combined for $372 million in net profits from slots; both aim to build sports betting areas

Two local racinos saw record profits from their video lottery terminals in the last fiscal year, continuing a trend that was only broken by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The facilities in Dayton and Lebanon have expanded and added new slot machines, and people are spending more on this popular form gambling.

Much attention has been paid to sports betting, which comes to Ohio next year and could be a multibillion-dollar market within a few years. Local racinos are taking steps to try to get a piece of the action.

But while sports betting is going to be big, it will not compare to slot revenue at racinos and casinos, said Danny Cross, managing editor of PlayOhio, which provides news coverage and information about legal gambling activities in the state.

“For one, sports betting margins are low because revenue is shared across the supply chain,” he said. “And slots are just a more popular form of gambling across the country by a wide margin.”

Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway took in more than $153 million in net winnings from its video lottery terminals in fiscal year 2022 (July 2021 to June 2022), which was up 8% from FY 2021, according to Ohio Lottery data.

Miami Valley Gaming in Warren County saw even stronger growth in FY 2022 — net profits from slots and gambling equipment shot up 18%, to $219.3 million.

Miami Valley Gaming opened at I-75 and Ohio 63 in late 2013, and Hollywood Gaming opened near Needmore and Wagner Ford roads in Dayton in summer of 2014. Both have seen net winnings increase every fiscal year, except for 2020, when their facilities were temporarily shut down because of COVID-19.

Hollywood Gaming has undergone four expansions since opening, which have added more space to the gaming floor, says a July letter to the Casino Control Commission from Matt Spitnale, regional director of compliance for Ohio for Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns the facility.

The most recent expansion was completed this spring and added 70 slot machines to the outdoor gaming patio, the letter states. The racino now has about 982 video lottery terminals, as well as live harness horse racing.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Hollywood Gaming recently applied for a city of Dayton building permit for a $3 million project to renovate an existing gaming and storage area into a Barstool Sportsbook.

Hollywood Gaming and Miami Valley Gaming earlier this summer submitted applications to the Ohio Casino Control Commission seeking approval for sports gambling at their facilities.

Miami Valley Gaming identified constructing a sportsbook in its racing simulcast area as its top capital improvement priority, according to documents the operator submitted to the Casino Control Commission.

Miami Valley Gaming had about 2,288 video lottery terminals last month, compared to 1,941 a year ago. The facility also has a 5/8th mile harness racing track and an indoor grandstand.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The racinos’ applications are still under review and the Casino Control Commission has not yet approved any sports gaming proprietor, service provider or supplier licenses, said Jessica Franks, the agency’s director of communications.

The commission, however, has given preliminary approval of 200 licenses for businesses that want to have sports betting kiosks.

The universal start date for sports gambling in Ohio is Jan. 1, 2023.

“We anticipate issuing licenses on a rolling basis moving forward,” Franks said.

There is a lot of money at stake, given that the state predicts legal sports betting could be a $1 billion industry in the first year and be worth more than triple that amount within a few years.

Ohio’s sports betting market eventually could produce $9 billion to $12 billion in wagers and $700 million to $900 million in gaming revenues annually, says PlayOhio.

Miami Valley Gaming did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jennifer Woffindale, marketing director with Penn Entertainment, said, “We have submitted our application and are working closely with regulators to open a new sportsbook inside Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway. We are excited for this new offering to come to Ohio and for us to be able to offer sports betting to our guests.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway and Miami Valley Gaming have expanded and rearranged their floors, changed their restaurant offerings and made other property upgrades that benefit patrons, said Danielle Frizzi-Babb, the Ohio Lottery’s communications director.

Major investments in their facilities’ atmosphere, food and beverage, entertainment and other amenities likely has resulted in new patrons, she said.

“By concentrating on guest amenities and experiences, the racinos have been able to maintain and grow their business,” Frizzi-Babb said.

It’s hard to say why Ohioans are betting more, but Hollywood Gaming and Miami Valley Gaming definitely are doing their part to retain customers and add new ones, and new draws like sports betting also will help, said Cross, with PlayOhio.

Ohio is likely to be one of the nation’s biggest sports betting states, Cross said, and this addition gives racinos a chance to add an entirely new experience, like expanded bar areas with many TVs.

Still, he said, sports betting is likely to be a secondary draw at racinos — slots especially and also horse racing could remain the major draws.

Sports betting will be good a fit at racinos, Cross said, but many Ohioans likely will choose to make wagers at many retail locations and online.

Staff writer Parker Perry contributed to this story.

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