Florida casinos produce $411 million net slot revenue

Jul 24, 2012 3:00 AM

The 2011-2012 fiscal year for Florida’s six gaming facilities has been compiled and released by the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering. It is no surprise the numbers are up.

The six operations produced Net Slot Revenue of over 411 million dollars ($411,322,634 to be exact) – a hefty 15.1% gain over the same period last year. The large increase can be directly attributable to the opening of the new Casino Miami Jai Alai. The new facility added over $25 million to the NSR since it opened in January.

Even without the addition of Casino Miami the year was still positive. The remaining five properties were up over $28.7 million. The 10.8% increase is not too shabby considering the business levels at many gaming palaces around the nation.

Breaking down the individual facilities provides insight into the demographics affecting the totals and the influence the Seminole and Miccosukee tribal properties have on the various operations.

Gulfstream does very well during the mid-winter season when their high quality racing offers options to the winter visitors and snowbirds. Their NSR has increased for the year but by a very small margin, less than 1%.

Mardi Gras, only two miles from Gulfstream had a nice increase of over 4% in NSR. The Mardi Gras operation relies heavily on marketing, necessary because of their closeness to Gulfstream and being only seven miles from Seminole Hard Rock Casino, the largest gaming facility in Florida. Mardi Gras also benefits from its live racing through the winter season.

Calder was able to make gains with a positive 6.6% NSR. With changes in the live racing season, Calder had steady increases in the average per machine handle throughout most of the year.

Magic City and Isle at Pompano both had double digit increases for the fiscal year. Magic City, with its ideal location being the farthest south and therefore closest to the huge residential locales of Coral Gables, Pinecrest and others, has virtually no competition to over 1/4 million potential customers. The area also has every level of income and age, a perfect mix.

Magic City had a 10.2% increase and possibly that would have been higher without the opening of Casino Miami Jai Alai. Magic City’s concert series throughout the winter season also attracts locals and visitors.

Isle at Pompano is the leader and has been since it opened its doors. The stand-alone facility has produced huge numbers. Even with the renovation at the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino, Isle experienced a whopping 13.2% NSR gain.

The location, while having competition, has the distinction of being located further north than any of the others, which gives them access to the Boca Raton, Palm Beach population. The income level and demographics of the area make Isle at Pompano the leader not only in slot gaming but also poker. For the 2011-2012 year Isle’s NSR was a bit over 23% of the entire state total.

With all the good news coming from the fiscal year’s report one set of numbers was a bit surprising; the totals for June without Casino Miami were up only 8/10ths of a percent. The Casino Miami’s $5.1 million plus brought a gain to 17.7%.

The increase is substantial but it certainly had an impact on Magic City and Calder. Both facilities were down from the same month the previous year. Gulfstream was down considerably and Mardi Gras was a wash. Pompano showed a considerable increase from the same month in 2011.

Nick Sortal, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel gaming writer, reported last week Isle had placed some slot machines at an outdoor terrace to allow smokers the opportunity to play and have a smoke, something prohibited by law in all Florida indoor gaming areas.

Isle management facing stiff competition from Seminole Coconut Creek Casino (which allows smoking throughout their facility) made the spot available and Mardi Gras management said they have plans to place machines on an outside terrace for the same purpose.

In other news from the Sunshine State involving gaming, the State has reduced its projections for the upcoming year because Hialeah, which was granted a license through a Florida Supreme Court decision, has decided to use the existing building to house its slots and not construct a new one. This change will set the opening back until June 2013. They had originally planned on opening next January.

Another interesting situation has developed from the Supreme Court decision. The Florida Attorney General has said the addition of slots requires specific legislation, contrary to the Supreme Court ruling. Currently some counties have already passed referendums or are planning to have the issue on their November ballots for expansion at pari-mutuel operations around the state.

There also have been warnings that adding more gaming facilities could be a violation of the Seminole’s compact which pays Florida over $200 million in taxes each year. It is a fact that the state collected over $143.9 million in tax revenue from the slots this fiscal year, a 15% increase over last year. The future tax revenue should be better with a full year of Casino Miami Jai Alai, Hialeah coming on-line and the pro-active operators of the other facilities improving their products.

The upcoming legislative session could also make considerable changes to the existing laws by:

• Allowing the licensing of free-standing non-pari-mutuel facilities, (resort casinos).

• Permitting the existing pari-mutuel facilities throughout the State to have gaming based on local approval.

• Allowing the existing gaming operators to offer more “bank games.”

• Allowing the licenses that have been dormant or have had legal challenges to their validity become legal.

The months ahead should have plenty of action.

Florida Gaming Report is exclusively prepared for GamingToday by Thompson/Hutchinson & Associates, the “Casino Doctors" based in Miami, Fla., with offices in Philadelphia and Tucson. The principals, Baird Thompson and William Hutchinson are veteran gaming executives and consultants with clients in the pari-mutuel and casino industry. Check them out at www.thecasinodoctors.com.

Florida Gaming Report is exclusively prepared for GamingToday by Thompson/Hutchinson & Associates, the "Casino Doctors" based in Miami, Fla., with offices in Philadelphia and Tucson. The principals, Baird Thompson and William Hutchinson are veteran gaming executives and consultants with clients in the pari-mutual and casino industry. Check them out at www.thecasinodoctors.com.