Florida racino revenue report for August exceeds July figures

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The racino revenue report for August is out. Here’s the Readers Digest version of the state of gaming around Florida: The first comment is wow, what a difference from the numbers in July!

Even though the NSR was only marginally ahead of July’s by just .7%, it showed a very healthy 16.67% ahead of the same Net Slot Revenue for 2011, decidedly a “mixed bag” of NSR with Gulfstream (prior to the flood), Mardi Gras, Magic City and Calder, down from 2011. Pompano and the newbie, Casino Miami Jai Alai, up.

An interesting dynamic has emerged as each of the two counties authorized by the state now hosts three facilities. Miami-Dade County operations show an NSR of $16,529,250 – a bit more than the combined NSR for Broward County: Pompano, Mardi Gras and Gulfstream: $15,814,369.

As usual for the first seven months of 2012, Pompano leads all the facilities in NSR. Pompano, Mardi Gras and Gulfstream are under their July numbers while the three Miami area racinos are all over their July 2012 NSR. Casino Miami Jai Alai is doing good business and continued to show a small increase for the month.

Magic City, which had a disappointing July, regained its No. 2 position overall, and appears to recapture a portion of business that defected to nearby Casino Miami Jai Alai. Magic City is still a bit behind their 2011 July but only slightly. Calder remains steady with their business keeping step with their demographics.

Pompano and Calder are free-standing racinos that cater to only slot and poker players. Though adjacent to the race tracks in both cases, the buildings, the signage, parking and the atmosphere is clearly casino. Some pari-mutuel crossover is likely; but emphasis is very strong on the casino. Pompano and Calder are both owned and operated by large gaming companies and have resources to construct these freestanding racino buildings.

Any expansion considered by the state during the upcoming legislative session should give careful examination to the ability and motivation of prospective permit holders to build a free standing facility or extensively remodel one to be competitive.

To reiterate an ongoing opinion in this space: the State of Florida immediately needs a Gaming Regulatory Board with power to not only regulate and monitor, but to ensure the most tax revenue for the state.

Odds n’Ends

Fort Myers and Lee County are not the only candidates for new racino/slot parlors in the Sunshine State. The swells in Palm Beach County, tired of watching customers and dollars flow south to the slot palaces in Broward and Miami Dade, will go to the polls in November to approve machines in their county. According to the Palm Beach Post, the Palm Beach Kennel Club, a thriving concern in its own right, is the object of the referendum.

Benefiting from a two decade old law, the PBKC has successfully offered live greyhound racing, and substantial horse and dog track simulcasts, including live signals from nearby Gulfstream Park. Horse players have been known to skip the drive to see and bet live thoroughbreds at GP in favor of betting GP in the friendly confines of the PBKC – where they can also bet all the national thoroughbred signals, plus a bevy of dog tracks and jai alai, and play poker.

There’s no doubt adding slots to the dog track would have a significant impact on other nearby racinos: most probably Isle Capri (Pompano Park) which is the current revenue leader in the state. PBKC is located smack dab in the middle of downtown West Palm Beach with an exit off I-95, across the street from the airport, and a hop, skip and jump from Worth Avenue, PGA National, Tiger Woods’ crib, and the Breakers.

Opponents note the vote is at best a “hypothetical exercise” since the Attorney General of Florida proclaimed slots outside of constitutionally mandated Miami Dade and Broward Counties to be illegal.

Kennel Club owners the Rooney family, through a spokesperson, allege PBKC has been losing customers to the nearby legal racinos thus causing a competitive disadvantage. Over 600,000 fans attended the track last year.

Here’s a surprising development at Casino Miami Jai Alai headlined in the South Florida Business Journal: The long time Miami landmark is in a foreclosure lawsuit brought by the lenders that financed its construction. ABC Funding, which manages the loan for several funds, filed the suit against Florida Gaming Corp. on Sept. 5. It also filed a similar suit against the Fort Pierce Jai Alai, which is secured by the same mortgage.

At first blush it appears the Jai Alai owners/managers grossly overestimated potential revenues and assets by $14 million attributable to projections for the introduction of the slots.

The Marlins are well out of the race for the playoffs, but surging Tampa Bay, off a recent eight-game winning streak, is within striking distance of the Wild Card with just a few games left.

At least, the new Marlins Stadium did well over $2 million in attendance, short of projections but encouraging for years to come. The future of the Rays remains cloudy, as a desperately needed ballpark in the Tampa Bay area is not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

With the Houston Astros now moving to the AL, where might the Devil Rays be relocated? A seemingly logical spot would be Orlando in the middle of the state within short driving distance of Tampa, Fort Myers, Daytona and Jacksonville. Hot stove material until spring training with only 171 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Breaking news: The two incoming top leaders in the state legislature, Senate Prez Don Gaetz, and House Speaker Will Weatherford (both R) announced they plan to take a “time out” from the usual tweaking of gambling laws during the next two sessions to review the state’s posture and possibly create a state division for regulation – reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

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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