Overall, first quarter earnings positive throughout Florida

Oct 23, 2012 3:00 AM

With Florida airwaves filled with political ads, and the NBA cranking up, folks are flinging open their doors and windows, welcoming the fresh air, lower humidity and sparkling days of sun, surf and sand.

Gaming attention turns to the votes empowering racinos around the state in places where such a notion would have been considered folly even a year ago. The state legislature holds the keys to allowing expansion.

We’ll have a look at those vote results in November, but for now here’s how the existing racinos fared in September:

The first quarter of the gaming year has ended and it is positive. The Net Slot Revenue increased to slightly over $8 million. Considering the poor start in July and September problems at Gulfstream Park, it looks even better.

The state enjoyed added tax revenues by virtue of Casino Miami Jai Alai joining the other five facilities, plus an uptick in the economy in South Florida. There can be little argument of the success gaming has delivered to the area, including added jobs.

For the month of September the Casino Miami Jai Alai had Net Slot Revenue of $4.7 million. Both Mardi Gras and Isle Casino at Pompano were up from August 2012 and a year ago. Gulfstream Park’s misfortune directly affected those figures.

As reported in this column, the huge 13-foot tall, 13,000 gallon aquarium on the second floor slot area sprung a gigantic leak and flooded the floor with water and a few tropical fish. The water also flooded the ground floor and knocked out the slot machines and poker room. The unexplained catastrophe created a mess requiring days of cleaning and repair before reopening.

As of September’s state report, GP is still operating with a few less machines than pre flood. The impact on play at Gulfstream was very costly: down over $1.2 million in NSR for the month. The comparison for the quarter is no prettier: down a hefty 17.4%. They are promoting heavily and hosting an extravagant Halloween “House of Horror Amusement Park” to attract new fans and bring back their regulars.

Mardi Gras and Isle at Pompano each had a decent September. Mardi Gras was up 4.5% and Isle up 7.6% from their September 2011 NSR. For the quarter; Mardi Gras is down 5.8% from 2011 and Isle is up 3.7% from 2011.

The obvious conclusion is Mardi Gras benefitted most from Gulfstream’s disaster, but not for the quarter. Isle continues to perform well and lead the pack of racino operations. Both continue to face intense competition from the Seminole properties.

Miami’s Magic City reported a down September, off 11% in NSR from that time a year ago. The quarter was also disappointing, down $2.3 million and 11.5%. Newcomer nearby Casino Miami Jai Alai is apparently snatching about 11% of Magic City’s business. The former Flagler Dog Track has commenced their fall/winter concert series with the Bangles.

Calder’s report mimics Magic City. For September, Calder is off 10.7% from September 2011 NSR. For the quarter: down over $1.7 million and 9.3%. Calder’s ad campaign is substantial but, even with the live racing season in full swing…no boost in play.

Casino Miami Jai Alai was not yet open last September; but their reports show continuing progress in revenues as each summer month bests the previous one. Their NSR was greater than either Mardi Gras or GP and Jai Alai has bested both for the entire quarter.

Card room and racing revenues in the quarter are slightly positive; the pari-mutuel numbers, negative. September numbers are better and forecast the upcoming winter racing season should be on the increase. For the quarter card rooms were up by more than 1.3%. September numbers were up slightly over 7%, a substantial gain. As the winter “snowbirds” arrive those numbers will improve.

For the quarter the pari-mutuels were down over $4.6 million – about 2.6%. September numbers were up more than $622,000 – about 1.2%. The 2012 September numbers may also reflect the change from the “Calder” meet to the “Tropical” meet.

The entire quarter reflects continued gaming increases in overall play and small positive results for card rooms. The negative pari-mutuel action could be largely due to unusually high rain amounts hindering the popular grass racing at Calder.

With the incoming leaders of the state legislature calling for a two year moratorium on new gaming licenses and a review of the Seminole Gaming Compact (which has a renewal in 2015), the local county November votes in Lee, and Brevard counties may be very premature. There’s no doubt gaming will expand in Florida, the question is where and when.

In-state sports

WMEN 640 AM radio in Palm Beach abruptly fired ex Miami Dolphin, Troy Stradford in mid October and replaced him with three time Dolphins Pro Bowler, Keith Simms.

Palm Beach Polo mogul John Goodman is back in jail from house arrest awaiting his appeal for the potential 30 year sentence for his DUI-manslaughter indictment. Deputies monitoring Goodman discovered he tampered with his ankle bracelet disabling the GPS function, and took him from his palatial home in Wellington back to the county jail. The judge has sentenced him to stay there through Thanksgiving, when he will reassess the situation.

St. Pete Times sports columnists are doubling as radio talk show hosts and enjoying success in the Bay area. Gary Shelton does middays on THE FAN 98.7 FM while writers Rick Stroud and Tom Jones host the mornings on longtime sports talker WDAE 620AM. Ex-Hurricane/NFL Dan Sileo, previously top sports talk host in Tampa, now hosts midday at Miami’s 560AM.

Controversial Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi opines that NBA commissioner David Stern quashed ex-Magic coach, Stan Van Gundy’s deal with ESPN. Bianchi suggests Stan’s outspoken and oft controversial stances, plus a long standing friction with Stern were the reasons. Meanwhile, Van Gundy frequently co-hosts on Dan Le Batard’s talk program on 790 THE TICKET in Miami. Jason Taylor and Mike Lowell are also weekly guest hosts.

Baird Thompson and William Hutchinson bring a combined 80 years of gaming marketing and administration experience to Gaming Today. Contact them at [email protected].

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