by Hector San Miguel
Delta Downs generated nearly $25 million in gross revenue--86% from its slot-machine parlor--for the first quarter of 2002, according to financial statements released by Boyd Gaming, and revenue reports provided by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.
In comparison, the Vinton, La., racetrack reported only $2.2 million in gross revenue for the last quarter for 2001. The track's 1,494 slot machines didn't go online until Feb. 13 of this year.
The slots generated $21.4 million of gross revenue, state reports show. More than 326,000 patrons played the machines.
"As expected, both slot revenue and operating expenses, particularly marketing and payroll, were unusually high in the initial reporting period," Boyd Gaming said in its financial statement. "As business normalizes, the company expects that slot revenue per day for the rest of the year will be less than in the first quarter 2002, but operating margins are expected to improve above those in the first quarter."
It has been estimated that money generated by each slot machine at Delta Downs for the first quarter was about $300 a day. The number is expected to drop over the next quarter.
In March, attendance at the track's slots parlor was 192,860, more than the number of persons who boarded either of the Harrah's riverboat casinos or the Isle of Capri riverboat casino. Those casinos are located in nearby Lake Charles, La.
Another Lake Charles boat, the Grand Palais, operated by Isle of Capri, registered 197,882 persons in March. None of the four riverboats alone generated more gross revenue in March than Delta Downs.
Boyd Gaming spokesman Rob Stillwell believes revenue figures from the racetrack slot machines show that the local gaming market is expanding.
Delta Downs is required to take 15% of gross revenue from slot machines to fund purses at the track. The slots generated $3.2 million for purses in February and March.
The American Quarter Horse Association reported that Delta Downs generated nearly $9 million in handle for the first two months of the year, up $700,000 from the same period a year ago.
Officials at Fair Grounds, the New Orleans track whose meet ended in late March, said Delta Downs impacted its program. They have compared Delta Downs' potential to that of Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort, the West Virginia track that has used slots-funded purses to lure horses from nearby Kentucky.
The executive committee of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders' Association receives 2% of monthly gross revenue. In February and March, $428,217 was generated for the state breeding program, reports show.