Ohio’s gaming industry experienced its best-ever August last month.
That is up from the previous high of $164.4 million in August 2019.
It’s a welcome sight for casino and racino operators, as well as the state’s coffers, bolstered by new influxes of cash each time gambling revenue grows.
It’s a benefit that could also pay dividends down the road for supporters of expansion inside Ohio’s legal wagering industry.
August continues a strong summer for casinos, racinos
Ohio currently sports seven racinos and four casinos, each of which provided significant sums to the month’s total revenue.
Here is how specific sites performed in August (italicized are casinos):
- MGM Northfield Park: $23.2 million
- JACK Cleveland: $21.9 million
- Hollywood Columbus: $21.1 million
- Hard Rock Cincinnati: $19.9 million
- Eldorado Scioto Downs: $19.6 million
- Hollywood Toledo: $19.5 million
- Miami Valley Gaming: $17.9 million
- JACK Thistledown: $17 million
- Hollywood Mahoning Valley: $13.4 million
- Hollywood Gaming Dayton: $12.4 million
- Belterra Park: $8.1 million
The state’s casinos, like JACK Cleveland, relied heavily on slots and table games. While racinos like MGM Northfield offer VLTs, or video lottery terminals.
JACK Cleveland, for instance, took in $11.5 million in slot revenue and $10.4 million in table revenue. In comparison, since racinos can’t offer skill-based contests, they rely totally on VGTs when it comes to in-house games.
August’s record month in Ohio followed even better and also record-setting stretches in June, when $196.8 million in revenue was tallied, and July, worth $211.2 million.
More than $1.5 billion have been raised by Ohio gambling sites so far in 2021.
The all-time figures come at an opportune time for proponents of expanding the state’s gambling scene to include sports betting.
The more revenue generated — and thus provided through taxes to cities, counties and law enforcement training — it’s easier to argue for the expansion, even if success is not immediate.
Sports betting on the back-burner to start session
Sports betting, an issue of major importance for many Buckeye constituents, is unlikely to draw much attention from lawmakers in September.
That’s because the state’s legislature has become predominantly focused on the contentious issue of redistricting.
It’s a topic rife with political consequences, likely to dominate near-term headlines and Statehouse discussions.
Rep. Bill Seitz, in fact, told PlayOhio that redistricting “has preoccupied the room,” although he remains “optimistic that we are on track to work within the framework” of sports gambling legislation.
Seitz hopes legislators will finish redistricting within the next month, he said.
Even so, the controversies bound to arise during redistricting could thwart later bipartisan efforts to accomplish a sports betting legalization bill.
Concerns also exist that too much time has already passed to have a realistic chance at getting the mechanisms in place to pass such legislation, even after what seemed to be a slam-dunk issue before scandal took over last year’s session.
Plus, even if a bill is passed in October, launching a legal sports betting industry would take months and possibly close to a year.
All that said, Ohio residents want sports betting. Its political popularity — not to mention the success seen in neighboring Indiana — means the topic is far from down and out.