MTR shows gains as Mountaineer shows losses

CHESTER – Demonstrating how Ohio is taking gambling dollars from West Virginia, revenue at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort dropped 15.8 percent in the last three months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

However, Mountaineer’s parent company, MTR Gaming Group, reported Thursday that company-wide revenue increased 12.2 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to 2011. This revenue increase is primarily due to MTR’s Columbus, Ohio property, Scioto Downs, opening its slot machines June 1.

“We continue to be pleased with the ramp-up of operations at our new Scioto Downs gaming facility, which generally exceeded our fair share of the Columbus slot market,” said Jeffrey J. Dahl, president and chief executive officer of MTR Gaming. “Although our other regional gaming facilities continue to perform within our expectations, competition, weather and overall weakness in consumer spending has had an effect on them.”

Revenue at Mountaineer fell from $55.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 to $47 million during the same period in 2012. Cash flow from slot machines at the Chester-based track dropped by $5.5 million during this time, while revenue from table gambling fell by $2.1 million.

MTR blames “increased competition from Ohio” as a major reason for the revenue drop at Mountaineer.

Since Mountaineer and West Virginia’s other three racetracks – Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, the Mardi Gras West Virginia Casino & Hotel (formerly Tri-State Racetrack) near Charleston and the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in the Eastern Panhandle – began table gambling, both Ohio and Pennsylvania have established slot machines and table gambling.

The recent opening of the Hollywood Casino Columbus has been particularly damaging to Wheeling Island, as much of the facility’s customer base over the past few years has come from central Ohio.

State Sens. Rocky Fitzsimmons, D-Wheeling, and Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg, are among the sponsors of the bill introduced during the regular session of the West Virginia Legislature that, if passed and signed into law by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, would reduce Mountain State tax rates on table games from 35 percent to 25 percent, while also dropping the annual casino license fee for table games from $2.5 million to $1 million.

Dahl said MTR plans to renovate hotel rooms at Mountaineer this year, in addition to “redefining the gaming floors at our properties to improve efficiencies and guest interaction, and making other facility improvements.”

For the entire year of 2012, MTR’s revenues increased 14.5 percent to $490 million, up from from $428.1 million in 2011. During the final three months of the year, revenues rose from $103.6 million in 2011 to $116.3 million in 2012, reflecting the 12.2 percent increase.

Revenue at Scioto Downs was $32.4 million during the final three months of 2012, after totaling only $300,000 as primarily a horse racing venue during the previous year, prior to the opening of the slots.

Revenue at MTR’s other property, Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, Pa., plummeted from $47.5 million during the fourth quarter of 2011 to $36.9 million at the same point in 2012, reflecting a 22.3 percent loss. The company also blames more competition from Ohio as the reason for the losses at this facility.