Cabin fever in February sparks a jump in gambling revenue in Northeast Ohio

CLEVELAND - Northeast Ohio gamblers found a prescription for this winter's cabin fever by hitting the region's three gambling facilities in February.

Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, ThistleDown Racino and Hard Rock Rocksino all posted gains in February over January, according to revenue figures released Friday.

Horseshoe Cleveland was up 5.2 percent over January with revenues after all bets were paid of $17.5 million that figure though was down $4.5 million or 20.5 percent from February of 2013. Given the continued cold of February those numbers would likely have been worse were it not for the opening of the casino's new skywalk.

February may be the shortest month, but for the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, it was their second most profitable in 2013, coming in only behind March.

Table games were actually down at Horseshoe from January $704,629 or 9.3 percent. Year-to-year table games were down 15 percent.

It was slots that were up at Horseshoe with the casino posting a take of $10.67 million after all bets were paid. While that was up $1.5 million or 17.3 percent over January it was down year to year $3.3 million or 23.7 percent.

That drop off is the result of a combination of 161 fewer slot machines at the Horseshoe compared to last year and the opening of both ThistleDown and Hard Rock, both of which posted strong video lottery terminal (VLT) numbers in January.

ThistleDown is regaining its footing in the market in the second full month of head to head competition with Hard Rock, posting VLT revenues after all bets were paid of $10 million, up 12.8 percent from January.

Hard Rock Rocksino at Northfield Park had its best showing in its second full month of operation, up 3 percent over January with revenue of $13.2 million.

While the opening of Hard Rock has cut into the slots/VLT numbers of Horseshoe and ThistleDown, the three properties combined brought in $33.9 million in slots/VLT revenue last month. That shows the slots market grew by 10.1 percent in February and is up 36 percent from November, the last full month before Hard Rock opened.

Since it opened in April of last year ThistleDown put together a string of consecutive months where they brought in more $300 per machine per day. That streak was snapped in January when the daily figure dropped to $250, but it recovered in February to $312.

Hard Rock's daily take per machine jumped from $184 in January to $211. Horseshoe Cleveland's daily take was $225 per slot machine.

While much attention may be focused on the Horseshoe's 20 percent drop over last year its important to note that the casino and ThistleDown are both earned by Rock Ohio Caesars. The combined take of the two properties in February was $27.5 million, that's $5.5 million or 25 percent more than the Horseshoe alone brought in last year.

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