MGM Considers Selling Northfield Park, Its Ohio Racino Property

Written By TJ McBride on March 26, 2024 - Last Updated on March 28, 2024
MGM Northfield Park racino

MGM Resorts International is considering selling two of its properties; one of which is the Northfield Park racino in Cleveland. The other is MGM Springfield Casino in Massachusetts.

While the idea of this potential sale is still in its infancy, the possibility is very real. MGM is investing heavily in online casino expansion, and its need for liquid funds is inevitable. MGM may soon be looking to cash out if it feels Northfield Park is no longer worth the investment and that its money could be better utilized elsewhere.

But that certainly doesn’t mean MGM is leaving Ohio altogether.

MGM Northfield Park Racino could be up for sale, but nothing is certain yet

MGM is reportedly exploring removing itself from the Ohio racino industry — due in large part to Northfield Park’s struggle to live up to expectations. The national gambling brand acquired the racino from Hardrock for $1 million back in 2019. Northfield Park sits about 20 miles outside of Cleveland and features a racetrack for harness racing, a casino with over 1,600 VLT slot machines, and a BetMGM Sportsbook.

When comparing Northfield Park’s success to other casinos across the state, it falls short of many other establishments. On a revenue-by-square-foot basis, MGM Northfield Park ranks as the ninth-best casino in the state, failing to make the impact many had hoped.

Despite MGM’s frustration, Northfield Park has been a leader among Ohio racinos, and it kicked off 2024 as the most popular option in January. In total, Northfield Park took $258.4 million in wagers. After accounting for winnings and promotions, this amounted to $22.2 million in January revenue.

That being said, the entire Ohio racino industry has seen lackluster performance lately. January’s total racino handle in Ohio was the lowest since February 2022. The handle in the first month of 2024 was 14.8% worse month over month and 6.8% worse year over year. Not only is Northfield Park falling short, but racinos as a whole are struggling.

First, Northfield Park needs a buyer

Currently, there have been no potential buyers that have been made public.

MGM has started the process of consulting with its financial experts because its share price has stagnated over the last couple of years. Even with an increase in sales and profits, its share prices have not risen more than 5% in the last two years.

MGM seems to value the return on its sale over remaining in the Ohio racino market. Bloomberg has reported that MGM wants to allocate more resources toward online gaming and its expansion across the country. That will require quite a bit of money. Cashing out in Ohio and putting that money toward new online casino markets makes quite a bit of financial sense. Especially with lawmakers considering adding Ohio online casinos to the state’s suite of gambling options.

Plus, MGM is not giving up its presence in Ohio. BetMGM is still taking online sports wagers across the state. Also, if Ohio online casinos eventually get legalized, MGM would almost certainly be one of the first operators to begin the licensing process.

MGM could expand future Ohio presence with online casino legalization

MGM is not completely removing itself from the Ohio gaming market and could even increase its footprint in the Buckeye State in the coming years.

First off, anyone of age in Ohio can download the BetMGM Ohio mobile app and place sports bets from anywhere in the state. The Ohio sports betting market is the fourth-largest in the country and BetMGM is a big contributor in that regard.

In January, BetMGM took nearly $50 million of mobile sports wagers and came away with $5.9 million of revenue. That made BetMGM the fifth-most popular sports betting option among the 20 online sports betting apps in the state.

If Ohio lawmakers decide to put forth and pass online casino legislation, that would be the next major step for MGM in the Buckeye State. It is unlikely a bill will be filed in 2024, but the ball is already rolling on online casinos. State Rep. Jay Edwards told PlayUSA earlier this year that the process of educating lawmakers has already begun. State legislators are also beginning to receive written testimonies from interested parties.

“What we’re trying to do is start the conversation, get best practices, educate members and allow regulators some input on the process so that when we are ready, we can start to implement that.”

With Ohio’s massive success in its first year of sports wagering, many feel that an online casino industry will do just as well. If you ask Edwards, online casinos could generate revenue that is multiple times more than sports betting.

“I can tell you in these other states that have passed sports gaming that have also passed iGaming, the iGaming revenue is 10 to 12 times what their sports gaming revenue is.”

MGM looking to sell Northfield Park because of its underwhelming performance compared to expectations is not ideal. But it would not stop MGM from jumping at the chance to be an online casino operator in the Buckeye State if legalized.

Photo by Dreamstime / PlayMA
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TJ McBride

T.J. McBride is a Denver-based writer and reporter who covers sports betting for PlayOhio. His work has been featured on ESPN, CBS Sports, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report and Yahoo Sports, among others.

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