VLT Revenue at Ohio Track Exceeds Estimates

Scioto Downs generated more than $11 million in revenue from VLTs in June.

The only racetrack gaming facility in Ohio generated $11 million in revenue in its first month of operation, the Ohio Lottery Commission reported.

Scioto Downs, a harness track in Columbus, opened its video lottery terminal casino June 1. Through June 30, the VLTs had taken in $122.67 million for a net win of $11.07 million.

The state collected 33.5%, or $3.71 million. The racetrack, which is considered a VLT "agent," earned $7.36 million.

Lottery officials had predicted the state would earn about $3 million a month at Scioto Downs, which eventually will have to compete with a full casino on the west side of Columbus.

Racetracks and horsemen's groups in Ohio continue to negotiate VLT revenue splits, though a 2012 law sets a minimum of 9% and maximum of 11% for purses and breed development programs. When the VLT parlor opened, Scioto Downs through a memorandum of understanding with the Ohio State Racing Commission set aside 9% of revenue in escrow.

Three other racetracks in the state--Thistledown near Cleveland, Hollywood Slots at Mahoning Valley Race Course, and Hollywood Slots at Dayton Raceway--have applied for VLT licenses. The latter two tracks would be the relocated Beulah Park and Raceway Park, respectively.

Scioto Downs, which is owned by MTR Gaming Group, earlier in July increased purses 30%-50% as a "reward to owners and horsemen for their loyal support through some very difficult years," track general manager Stacy Cahill said. The purse for the top overnight events of the week went from $6,000 to $12,000.

For the first month of the meet pari-mutuel handle increased 20%, Cahill said. Increased purses have led to full fields of 10 horses per race and a flooded entry box.

"We've had large fields in many of our races and that really jump-starts the handle," Cahill said. "The handle on a 10-horse field is significantly more than what you get on a six- or seven-horse field, and we've had a lot of races with full fields."

Still outstanding is a legal challenge of the 2011 VLT law by the Ohio Roundtable, which is appealing to the Ohio Supreme Court. Most tracks in the state, however, now seem comfortable moving forward by applying for VLT licenses.

Thistledown owner Rock Ohio Caesars has said it plans to have VLTs operating by early 2013.