atronage at the casinos also was up in the final month before the repeal of the state’s loss limits, but that also is tempered by Lumiere Place casino, which opened in December.
Without the us$ 12.6 million reported by Lumiere Place, casino revenues for the month would be down about 6.4 % statewide - though much of the money lost at Lumiere might have gone to other St. Louis-area riverboats. Without Lumiere’s attendance numbers, ridership statewide would be down about 8.3 %.
Overall, gamblers lost nearly us$ 131 million to the boats in October, with a statewide per-patron loss of us$ 69.26. In Kansas City, where casinos already are jittery about expanded gambling across the state line in Kansas, revenues dropped 3.5 % from their year-ago levels and about 50,000 fewer people walked through the turnstiles during the month.
In its monthly report, the Missouri Gaming Commission said only one of the state’s 12 casinos, the Argosy in the Kansas City suburb of Riverside, showed an increase in patrons. One casino stayed about the same and nine saw a decline, while Lumiere Place did not have numbers to compare.
The Argosy is one of only three casinos that reported an increase in revenues over October 2007, with a 3 % rise. The other two are small-market riverboats in LaGrange, which saw a 9 % increase, and in St. Joseph with a 2 % increase.
Harrah’s in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights had the biggest October revenues at us$ 23.25 million, but that’s 8 % lower than during the same month last year. The casino’s patrons lost an average of us$ 80.15 per visit, which also is the state’s highest.
Less than a week after Missouri voters approved a measure removing the state’s unique loss limits, gambling officials say it’s too soon to know whether there has been any impact. Casinos were notified Friday morning by the state that the caps had been removed, effective immediately after Election Day.
While pushing Proposition A, which removed the us$ 500 loss limit per two-hour "excursion," proponents pointed to an estimate by the state auditor’s office that eliminating the cap would bring in an additional us$ 105 million to us$ 130 million in new money for schools. That was before the economy went into a nosedive.
"We’re not different than other industries," said Michael Winter, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Association. "There is the potential for individuals to re-evaluate whether want to come to our properties."
He said it’s also too early to know whether projections for increased ridership with the passage of Proposition A will be realized because they were made earlier in the year when the economy wasn’t so bleak.
While promoting Proposition A, supporters warned that the state was at an economic disadvantage to other states that didn’t have loss limits and didn’t require their patrons to get an identification card to keep track of their losses.
Looming in that discussion was Kansas, which approved casino gambling last year. The us$ 680 million Hard Rock Hotel and Casino complex at Kansas Speedway, slated to open in 2011, is considered a significant threat to syphon revenue from the four Kansas City-area casinos.