Kansas Riverboat Casinos Gets Mix Revenue Results

On January 13th, 2009, the casino riverboat revenues in Kansas City dropped down in 2008 for the first time since the casino facilities in Missouri opened in 1994. Gross revenues-the flipside of players’ combined losses-still reached $719.2 million in 2008, but that was almost $1.5 million less of the recorded $720.6 million mark made in 2007. Tom Cook, the general manager at Harrah’s North Kansas City Casino and Hotel said that even with the difficult economy, they are still hanging tough.

One counter to the ongoing recession was the repeal made by the state voters on November 2008 on the loss limit imposed on casinos. On December, the first full month that VIP’s could buy more than $500 in gaming credits every 2 hours, casino revenue was up by 1.5% for the Kansas City casinos and nearly five percent all over the state from a year ago. Aside from that, it shows that the area’s casino revenue improved for the year when the tribal-owned 7th street Casino in down Kansas City, Kansas, is included.

Revenue is not made public for the tribal casinos, which opened last January and has already carved a niche in the area. But based on the tribe’s profit-sharing payments to the Wyandotte County’s Unified Government, the casino’s five hundred bingo-based slot machines in 2008 drained more than $10 million from the Missouri marketplace.
Gross revenues at three of the market’s four casino riverboats were down in 2008 as those casino facilities posted some of their worse revenue, player admission and market share numbers. But the Argosy Casino and Hotel and Spa in Riverside apparently shrugged off the effects of the global recession and posted the property’s best year ever.

One explanation for Argosy casino’s surge is the smoker. The Riverside gaming boat is the only one in the market that is not operating under a municipal smoking ban. While smoking is permitted on all four casinos’ gaming floors, Argosy is the only casino that allows tobacco use in its bars, restaurants and other public areas and smokers may be going to the casino for the convenience. Harrah’s Cook said that there is nothing that they can do about it.

Argosy’s general manager, Ameet Patel, disagrees. Patek said that they rarely hear about players defecting from Harrah’s or Ameristar. He added that their patrons said that they like Argosy because of the casino’s service and marketing offers. A big question is whether the removal of Missouri’s loss limit will help cushion against the recession and help the gaming industry bounce back. The limits were removed on November 7th, 2008 and the early returns are interesting for the gaming industry. The Missouri table game drop-the overall total of all players’ chip buy-in at casino table games-was $74.6 million in December.

The drop numbers fluctuate widely but a check of the Missouri Gaming Commission monthly financial reports states that the figure rarely surpasses the $70 million mark and in recent years settles in the low to middle $60 million range.