Racetrack casino annual revenues tilt slightly upward

Slot revenues at South Florida racetrack casinos rose by more than 2 percent this fiscal year compared to last, according to figures released this month by the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.

The eight dog tracks, horse tracks and jai-alai frontons with slots collected $549 million from gamblers in the fiscal year that ended June 30. The revenues are taxed at 35 percent, so that means the state collected $192 million this year, a $4 million increase.

The growth in Florida gambling slightly outpaced the national growth rate, which saw an overall increase of 1 percent, according to Daniel Holmes, co-practice leader for gambling for RubinBrown, a St. Louis-based accounting and business consulting firm. He credits the stable economic environment, which makes people freer with disposable income.

“Looking forward, Florida can expect to see continued growth that exceeds the national growth rate,” he said.

The Isle Casino and Racing in Pompano Beach again led the way, with revenues of $140.2 million. As the northernmost racetrack casino, the Isle also attracts customers from Palm Beach County. Officials in the past have said about one-third of their business hails from north of the county line.

Next were: Magic City Casino in Miami ($80.6 million), Calder Casino in Miami Gardens ($78.1 million), Hialeah Park ($73.7 million), Casino Miami ($63.7 million), Gulfstream Park ($45.6 million), Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach ($44.5 million) and the Casino @ Dania Beach ($22.9 million). Casino Miami led in payback percentage – the amount returned to slot players – at 93.47 percent. The Isle was last at 90.91 percent.

The racetrack casinos compete against the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which had seven casinos collect about $2.4 billion over the same period. The tribe does not release its figures, but past reports have put the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa near $900 million a year and the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood near $550 million. The tribe has an agreement with the state that allows them blackjack and other table games, which the racetracks casinos can’t offer. The tribe’s estimated tax is at about 12 percent.

All casinos make the bulk of their money via slots, which are legal only at pari-mutuels in Broward and Miami-Dade following statewide and countywide votes. Poker is available at 24 racetracks across the state and collected $156 million. That’s about $6.5 million per facility, with the Isle again being the local leader ($10,986,642).

The state report noted that the South Florida racetrack casinos that a single slot machine was good for an average of $195 per day in revenue, with 7,730 machines in use on an average day. The casinos also collected $61,8000 in excluded gambler winnings – that’s often when compulsive gamblers voluntarily ban themselves from casinos, with the pledge of forgoing any jackpots should they happen to lapse and return to the property. The biggest forfeit came in September at Hialeah Park, when $27,894 in winnings was withheld.

NickSortal@BellSouth.net