Ohio Racinos Surpass $1B in Net Revenues in FY19 as Horsemen Envision Future with Sports Betting

Posted on: July 11, 2019, 04:19h. 

Last updated on: April 20, 2023, 07:36h.

Ohio officials are praising racinos for setting a net revenue record of more than $1 billion during the recent fiscal year as the state is also considering proposals to legalize sports betting.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine may sign a sports betting proposal law into law later this year. The proposal comes as the state set a record in racino net revenue. (Image: Chronicle-Telegram)

The Ohio Lottery Commission announced the approximately $1.05 billion total this week. It represents net revenues — from the seven racinos in the state — remaining after payout of prizes to players from video lottery terminals between July 1, 2018 and the end of last month.

The amount is an important record for the state, officials said. “Ongoing growth shows the popularity of gaming entertainment in Ohio,” lottery spokeswoman Marie Kilbane Seckers told Casino.org.

It compares to the 2018 fiscal year when gamblers bet about $10.8 billion. Operators took in $987.3 million that fiscal year.

Renee Mancino, executive director at Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association, agreed in a statement to Casino.org the recent announcement “is … evidence that Ohioans have confidence in the gaming product Ohio’s racinos offer….”

She added the growth “has been steady and consistent in Ohio’s racinos and casinos versus other states…. Ohio has been … conservative and has not expanded the existing casino and racino footprint or laws — for a conservative market saturation effect.

Regardless of the success with a conservative strategy — patrons have finite discretionary money to spend in regional, non-tourist-draw markets — gaming expansion will come,” Mancino predicted.  “It will come in the form of sports wagering and table games at the racinos.”

Sports Betting Proposal in Legislature

Two of Ohio’s neighboring states, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, currently offer sports betting, and another neighboring state, Indiana, is preparing to start sports betting later this year. Ohio is currently considering legal betting on professional and college sports.

In House Bill 194, state Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) and Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) argue to set up a Sports Gaming Advisory Board for athletic wagering. The Ohio Lottery Commission would oversee sports betting, under the legislation.

Earlier this year, the proposal was reviewed by the House Finance Committee. Officials from Ohio’s MGM Northfield Park and Penn National Gaming, which operates Hollywood Casinos in Columbus and Toledo and two racinos in the state, supported the proposal.

On Thursday, Greenspan told Casino.org the legislature is now in recess. But he hopes the bill will be approved by the committee in September and be enacted in 2019.

“My goal is still to have the [sports betting] bill pass by the end of the year,” Greenspan added. He says it has “bipartisan support.”

As far as the record set by racinos, Greenspan cautioned about making conclusions between the racetrack revenue and the state’s interest in sports betting. “I am not sure you can draw parallels between the two,” he said.

He notes how Ohio has eight professional sports teams (not including lacrosse), as well as college teams at Ohio State and other educational institutions. So, interest in sports wagering “will be very strong,” he said.

The state’s racinos and Ohio’s four casinos could each offer sports betting under Greenspan’s bill. Fraternal and veteran organizations could also take bets.

Under the bill, the state would get 10 percent after expenses. Two percent of the state’s revenue would provide help with gambling addiction.

Alternative Bill Proposed

An alternative bill in the state Senate would give the state’s Casino Control Commission oversight over sports betting. That bill apparently did not garner as much support in the legislature as Greenspan’s proposal.

Several states unfurled sports betting last year after the US Supreme Court in May rejected a ban that had been put into place by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) in 1992.