COVID-19 Took Its Toll On 2020 Ohio Gaming Revenue, But Optimism Remains For 2021

Posted By Martin Harris on January 13, 2021 - Last Updated on January 21, 2021

After a promising start to 2020, gaming in Ohio ended the year by posting a sharp decline in revenue for the calendar year.

State regulators shared final figures for 2020, showing that Ohio’s four casinos and seven racinos collectively earned $1.44 billion in gross gaming revenue during the year.

That total reflects a nearly 26% drop from the $1.94 billion Ohio properties collected in 2019. As was the case throughout the country, closures and limited hours as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic primarily caused the year-over-year decline.

The news isn’t all bad, though, as the properties uniformly thrived during months when they were able to operate fully in 2020.

Closures, reduced hours lead to overall revenue loss

The Ohio Casino Control Commission reported 2020 totals for the state’s four casinos, while numbers for the seven racinos came from the Ohio Lottery Commission.

According to Cleveland.com, 2019 had represented a record year for the state in terms of gambling revenue.

In fact, the state’s casinos and racinos set records in 2020 as well.

Following directives from the Ohio Department of Health and Gov. Mike DeWine, all casinos and racinos in 2020 were fully closed from Mar. 13 to Jun. 18. Officials then began limiting hours of operation starting Nov. 19 and lasting throughout the remainder of the year.

However, during the six months that facilities operated without limits on hours, casinos set revenue records each month.

All 11 Ohio properties endure significant revenue declines

Among the casinos, Hollywood Casino Toledo suffered the least, relatively speaking. The Toledo property reported about a 9.5% decline in revenue, from $202 million in 2019 to $183 million in 2020.

By contrast, the other three casinos endured much steeper decreases, each approaching almost a one-third drop in revenue.

Both Hollywood Casino Columbus and JACK Cleveland Casino decreased by about 28% in revenue. Hollywood Columbus went from $229.2 million in 2019 to $165.4 million in 2020. Meanwhile, JACK Cleveland fell from $212.1 million to $152.2 million.

Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati, which spent most of the year still flying under JACK Casino branding, had a hard time of it as well. The $142.8 million in revenue in 2020 for the Hard Rock property represented more than a 31% decrease from $207.7 million in 2019.

A similar trend emerged for the seven racinos, all of which also saw year-over-year declines.

The state’s largest racino in terms of business, MGM Northfield Park, had the largest year-over-year decline of 32.3%.

Taking the smallest, though still significant, hits: JACK Thistledown Racino (down 19.1%) and Hollywood Dayton (down 21.3%).

Reason for optimism in 2021 despite continued reduced hours

The reduced hours continue for Ohio gambling properties, all of which must close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night.

Indeed, all Ohioans remain under curfew between those hours through Jan. 23. Exceptions include going to work, grocery shopping or other essential or emergency outings.

Even so, when looking ahead to 2021, casinos and racinos have reason to be optimistic given the properties’ performance during those 2020 months they operated without the hourly restrictions.

Photo by AP/ Mark Duncan
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