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2013

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March Revenues Up
April 22, 2014

For the second consecutive month, revenues were up at all 8 of Ohio’s gambling venues. A longer month and an extra weekend most likely played a role in double digit increases in 7 of the 8 venues.

Horseshoe Cincinnati showed the biggest increase among the casinos. The $20.16 million represented a 22% increase over February. Horseshoe Cleveland was next with revenues of $21.26 million, a 21.4% increase. Hollywood Columbus saw an increase of 18.9% to $20.78 million and Hollywood Toledo had a 13.9% increase to $17.36 million.

Miami Valley Gaming had the largest increase among the racinos. Revenues of $11.62 million resulted in a 25.4% increase over February. Hard Rock Rocksino was next with revenues of $15.88 million, a 20.3% increase. Scioto Downs saw its revenues increase 15.6% to $12.79 million and Thistledown was up 5.7% to $10.63 million.

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Austintown Race Dates
April 22, 2014

The Ohio State Racing Commission issued a racing permit and approved Penn National Gaming’s 2014 race dates for the Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course. The racing permit was required to allow the racino to operate VLT’s. Live thoroughbred racing will begin November 24th. There will be 21 live racing dates in 2014.

The Austintown racino also entered into a 10-year agreement with the Thistledown racino that establishes race dates that will not conflict with one another. In 2015, Mahoning Valley Race Course will have 100 live race dates during the fall and winter. Thistledown will have 122 live race dates during the spring and summer.

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Hollywood Columbus Fined
April 21, 2014

The Columbus casino became the last of Ohio’s four casinos to be fined by the Ohio Casino Control Commission. As part of a settlement between the casino and the OCCC, Hollywood Columbus was fined $75,000 for failing to maintain proper credit files and violating state law on how credit is issued. Horseshoe Cincinnati was fined the same amount for similar violations in February.

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Internet Cafes Returning?
April 21, 2014

Willoughby Hills, a city in northeast Ohio near Cleveland, is considering a business model proposed by attorneys for Internet cafes. Under this model, a person selects a game to play and then pushes a button that will tell them if they will win or lose. Since the outcome is projected in advance, proponents argue that it is neither a game of skill or a game of chance. Therefore these games fall outside the gambling laws of the state. And since they fall outside the gambling laws of the state, operators do not have to register with the attorney general’s office. The law director for the city claims that there are approximately 60 of these businesses already in operation. But the city of Willoughby Hills will await for the Bureau of Criminal Investigations and the attorney general’s office to weigh in on the matter.

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Further Regulation of Skill Games
March 19, 2014

HB 472 (Governor Kasich’s mid-biennium budget review) has been introduced. In it, Kasich seeks further regulation of skill-game arcades.

Internet cafes were essentially shut down last year, but are beginning to reappear as ‘skill game’ arcades, which are electronic slot machines illegally paying out cash prizes.

HB 472 attempts to tighten the noose by providing the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) with greater regulatory power. Currently the OCCC oversees these operations but does not license or regulate. HB 472 would require all skill-game operators to be licensed. The OCCC would grant those licenses as well as determine the cost of each license. It is not the intent of the legislation to go after legitimate operations such as Chuck E. Cheese or Dave & Busters. Those type operations would be eligible for a waiver from licensing requirements. The OCCC would also have final say in whether or not to grant a waiver.

Violation of this law would be a fifth degree felony which could result in up to a year in prison and the closing of the operation.

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Lottery Machines Approved for VFW, Fraternal Organizations
March 12, 2014

The state Controlling Board unanimously approved the purchase of 1,200 ‘next generation’ gaming machines for use at VFW posts and fraternal organizations. The total cost would be $22.5 million over the next 2 years. Intralot would build the machines and receive 1.83% of all wagers to service the machines.

The Ohio Lottery Commission says they already have orders for 555 of the machines. VFW and fraternal organizations are not required to install the machines. A spokesman for the lottery commission stated that these ‘next generation’ machines provide another option while the courts and legislature debate the issue. If the machines are rejected totally or in part by VFW and fraternal organizations, they can be reconfigured to be distributed to other retail lottery locations.

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Austintown Racino Agreement Signed
March 12, 2014

Penn National Gaming and the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association formally signed an agreement that “covers all aspects of thoroughbred racing” at Hollywood Gaming in Austintown. This according to a Penn National Gaming news release. As expected, there will be 988 stalls constructed in 13 barns. Other points of the agreement, according to the news release, include VLT revenue sharing, approval for simulcasting of races at the track, coordinated year-round racing schedule with the Thistledown racino and dormitory spaces for grooms working for horsemen at the track.

The agreement is a 10-year deal. Later this month the Ohio State Racing Commission will consider the racing schedule and permit for the track. Penn National Gaming has asked for 21 live racing dates to commence November 24.

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Revenues Up in February
March 11, 2014

All eight gambling venues (4 casinos and 4 racinos) saw an increase in February’s revenue over January’s revenue. Weather was most likely a factor for the increase given that some venues were forced to close for a few days in January.

Hollywood Toledo had the biggest increase. Revenues of $15.28 million was a 32.5% increase over January. Hollywood Columbus was up 14% with revenues of $17.47 million. Horseshoe Cleveland increased 5% to $17.51 million and Horseshoe Cincinnati was up slightly, 1.6% to $16.50 million.

Miami Valley Gaming led the racinos. With $9.28 million in revenues, they were up 19% over January. Other double digit increases were experienced at Scioto Downs, up 14% to $11.07 million and Thistledown, up 13% to $10.05 million. The Hard Rock Rocksino saw a 3% increase to $13.2 million.

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Thistledown Decision Nearing
March 11, 2014

Before Thistledown opened last year, an agreement was reached with the Governor’s office that would allow the track to be moved to the Akron-Canton area within 12 miles of the city of Green. By law, that decision must be reached by June.

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Austintown Racino Clears Big Hurdle
March 10, 2014

It appears the biggest hurdle facing the opening of the Austintown racino has been cleared. Penn National Gaming and the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (OHBPA) have been at odds over the number of stalls. Penn National Gaming wanted 760 stalls. OHBPA was thinking closer to 1,000 stalls. Both sides have now told the Ohio Racing Commission they have come to an agreement to build 988 stalls. The agreement still needs to be signed by both parties before becoming official. Once that occurs, the racing commission will turn their attention to Penn National Gaming’s racing permit.

Construction has already begun on the facility. Penn National Gaming is hoping to open the facility this Fall.

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New Proposal for VFW, Fraternal Organizations
March 7, 2014

The Ohio Lottery Commission has come up with another proposal for electronic gaming at VFW posts and fraternal organizations. The commission’s first proposal offered to install their ‘next generation’ gaming machines. That offer was turned down by veterans and fraternal organizations because they would only receive 25% of the proceeds while Intralot, who would build the machines, would get 60%. The remaining 15% would go to education. This offer was rejected because veterans and fraternal organizations didn’t think their cut was enough to cover operating costs and continue charitable giving. Attorney General Mike DeWine had also objected on the basis that not enough of the proceeds would support charity and education.

Under the new Ohio Lottery Commission proposal, veterans and fraternal organizations would get 40% of the profits and the lottery commission’s education fund would receive the remaining 60%. The lottery commission would purchase 1,200 of these next generation machines from Intralot with $21.9 million in taxpayer money. The lottery commission has indicated that it already has potential orders for about 500 of the machines from veterans and fraternal organizations. Next week the state Controlling Board will decide on the proposal.

These next generation machines would be specifically for veterans and fraternal organizations. They would replace the existing electronic raffle machines that Ohio DeWine deemed a form of illegal gambling. The electronic raffle machines will continue to operate until a judge rules on a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Veteran and Fraternal Charitable Coalition that claims these machines are legal. HB 325, which would allow electronic raffle machines by veterans and fraternal organizations, languishes in a House committee. The bill is not expected to move quickly because other gambling interests such as the casinos and racinos are strongly opposed.

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Sweepstakes Cafes Rebranding Themselves
March 7, 2014

HB 7 essentially shut down Internet cafes last year. Now it appears these sweepstakes cafes are reappearing as skill games, which are also illegal depending on the machine operating software and how payouts are awarded. Skill games were essentially shut down in 2007 when all cash payouts were banned and noncash payouts were capped at a value of $10 per play.

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Cincinnati Casino Fined
March 6, 2014

Horseshoe Cincinnati has been fined $75,000 by the Ohio Casino Control Commission for failing to keep complete credit files and violating state law on how credit is issued.

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More Casino Legal News
March 6, 2014

A patron at Horseshoe Cincinnati has filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the casino. He was playing craps and his $5 bet at 999-to-1 odds won, entitling him to $5,000. However, the casino refused to pay him. Turns out the patron was on the Indiana Voluntary Exclusion Program where he voluntarily banned himself from all Indiana casinos. Horseshoe Cincinnati has a sister casino in Indiana. As a result, the casino is claiming the patron should also be banned from its facility. Interestingly enough, the casino took the patron’s money from all of his losing bets.

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December Revenues
January 20, 2014

The chilly December temperatures had a chilling effect on all of Ohio’s gaming establishments. Horseshoe Cleveland had its lowest month of revenue since it opened in May, 2012. The $18.2 million was down nearly 10% from November. Hollywood Toledo, with revenues of $14.2 million, was down about 4% from November. Hollywood Columbus dropped to $16.4 million, a nearly 6% decrease from November. Horseshoe Cincinnati saw the biggest decline from November, down 19% to $14.2 million.

The Scioto Downs racino was down 3% from November, with revenues of nearly $11 million. Thistledown racino declined 19%, to $10.7 million, from November. Two new racinos opened in December. The Hard Rock Rocksino generated revenues of $8.15 million while Miami Valley Gaming had revenues of $5.7 million.

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2013 Revenues
January 20, 2014

For the year, Ohio’s four casinos and four racinos generated combined revenues of $1.07 billion. In 2009, an Ohio Department of Taxation study estimated total revenues of $1.4 billion once all eleven facilities were up and running. Currently eight are open with three more racinos due to open in 2014.

Surrounding states were impacted negatively by Ohio’s gaming venues. Pennsylvania revenues were down 3.5% for the year, Detroit revenues down 4.3% and Indiana revenues down 11%.

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Electronic Raffle Machines Update
January 17, 2014

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine further clarified his position on the Ohio Lottery’s proposal to supply VFW posts and fraternal organizations with ‘next generation’ lottery machines. DeWine claims the proposal is unconstitutional because the proceeds for education are not enough. Under the Ohio Lottery proposal, for each $100,000 in wagers $1,375 would go to education. With existing lottery games, for each $100,000 in wagers $30,000 goes to education.

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Electronic Raffle Machines
January 3, 2014

VFW posts and fraternal organizations will be allowed to continue operating electronic raffle machines, at least for the next several months. After HB 325, which would allow charitable video bingo games at veteran and fraternal organizations failed to pass before the legislature adjourned for the year, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine ordered e-raffle games shut down, claiming they were a form of illegal gambling.

The Ohio Veteran and Fraternal Charitable Coalition, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion filed a lawsuit this week against the attorney general’s office and the Ohio Department of Liquor Control, claiming that the electronic raffle machines were indeed legal and that they should not be subject to any civil, criminal, or administrative sanctions. The coalition retained Andrew Douglas, an attorney and former justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, as their counsel. The coalition claimed they were losing $15,000 a day from the shutdown of the electronic raffle machines.

As part of the lawsuit, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Stephen McIntosh granted a temporary restraining order allowing the electronic raffle machines to be turned back on until the lawsuit is resolved, which will probably not occur before June.

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November Revenues
January 3, 2014

Overall, revenues from Ohio’s gambling venues were up slightly from October. Horseshoe Cleveland had the biggest increase, nearly 4% to $20.2 million. The remaining casinos showed just slight variations from October. Horseshoe Cincinnati declined slightly from $18.1 million in October to $17.6 million in November. Hollywood Toledo saw a slight upward bump, increasing from $14.7 million in October to $14.8 million in November. Hollywood Columbus declined slightly, from $17.7 million in October to $17.5 million in November.

The Scioto Downs racino saw a slight rise in revenues, from $11.24 million in October to $11.279 million in November. Thistledown was the only other venue to see revenues increase more than 3%, going from $12.9 million in October to $13.3 million in November.

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Two More Racinos Open
January 2, 2014

The Hard Rock Rocksino at Northfield Park and the Miami Valley Gaming racino near Cincinnati opened their doors this week. The Hard Rock Rocksino contains 2,242 VLT’s, a Hard Rock Café, 1,800-seat concert venue, 320-seat comedy club and three eateries. Miami Valley Gaming contains 1,600 VLT’s and four eateries. Harness racing starts in February.

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Austintown Racino Update
January 2, 2014

Penn National Gaming and the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association have reached a tentative agreement over the number of stalls to be built at the new Austintown racino. Originally, Penn National Gaming was going to build 760 stalls. The horse owners group wanted closer to 1,000. The tentative agreement calls for 988 stalls. Both sides must still formally sign a contract. Once that occurs, the racing commission will act on the 2014 racing schedule. The racino can’t open until the racing commission approves their race dates.

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