Ohio racetrack casinos had a very good fiscal year 2018.
The Buckeye State’s seven racinos saw record net revenues in its most recent fiscal year, which ended June 30. Figures from the Ohio Lottery Commission show more than $987 million in revenue for the year, a 6.1 percent increase from the previous time frame. Racinos revenue have more than doubled since fiscal year 2014 ended.
Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield led the way with more than $246 million in revenue last fiscal year, a six percent increase over the previous 12-month period. Overall, all seven of the state’s racinos notched upticks from the previous fiscal year.
The state’s four casinos also saw an increase. The Hollywood Casino in Columbus and Toledo, as well as the Jack Cincinnati and Jack Cleveland Casinos averaged more than two percent increases across the board.
The millions in revenue for the casinos and the state are a major change from just a few years prior.
Ohio banned casinos for decades, leading Ohioans to travel to neighboring Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky, which had more established gaming traditions. That changed in November 2009 when state voters approved a referendum to allow casinos. The state’s first facility opened in May 2012 and 10 more facilities followed in the following two years.
With casinos now a fixture in the Buckeye State, legalized sports betting might be the next frontier – If lawmakers act. There has been little action in Columbus from legislators or Gov. John Kasich’s office. Ohio didn’t introduce any sports betting bills in the previous term and have shown little inclination to do so in 2019.
While Ohio stagnates, its neighbors have positioned themselves to become among the first to take bets on single-game sporting events in the country. West Virginia has already passed its legislative and regulatory hurdles and will take its first bet later this year. Meanwhile a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislatures in Kentucky have filed a bill for the 2019 session and sports betting will likely be a significant focus in Frankfort.
Several of these Ohio legislators will be on hand in Cleveland later this week for one of the biggest events for lawmakers and gambling stakeholders.
The National Council of Legislators From Gambling States will bring together elected officials with leading game providers, casino operators and sports leagues. The first council meeting since the Supreme Court ruling to overturn the federal ban on sports betting, this summer’s gathering may be the most consequential yet.
Over the weekend of July 13 through 15, these stakeholders will hold multiple panels and networking opportunities to discuss developments and strategies for sports and online betting from early adopters as well as road maps for those considering it.
It could also move the needle for the host state. Ohio state Sen. William Coley serves as the NCLGS president and will address attendees at the beginning of the conference. Additionally Ohio Lottery Director Dennis Berg is scheduled to appear as part of a presentation group. With influential Ohio gambling figures already collaborating with other state leaders, it may be just the boost the state needs to grasp new gambling opportunities.
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