The fifth time was the charm for supporters of gaming in Ohio. Voters had rejected the approval of casinos in Ohio four times over the last couple decades, but apparently the Buckeye State’s fiscal concerns trumped the opposition as the referendum to allow land-based gambling operations in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo was approved with 53% of the vote in November’s election. Gaming in Ohio will certainly help that state with its revenue problems, but will just as certainly make Indiana’s fiscal picture worse by cutting into our gaming tax revenues.
Indiana currently receives about $250 million dollars a year from three riverboats that are within a short drive of Cincinnati. It is estimated that up to 38% of the riverboat patrons come from out of state. The Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg and Grand Victoria Casino & Resort in Rising Sun are just minutes from Cincinnati and could both be seriously impacted by a casino there. The Belterra Casino Resort & Spa in Vevay is a little further down the Ohio River, but likely would also feel the effects.
Additionally, the other casinos could draw away some of the traffic at the already greatly suffering Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson. All told, Indiana gaming tax revenues could drop by as much as $100 million. These likely future losses to Indiana follow the losses now being experienced at the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City due to the opening of a new tribal casino last year just across the border in Michigan. In addition, Kentucky could well be the next state to siphon off revenues as the pressure mounts to allow slots at its horse tracks.
Bottom line: As more players enter the game, Indiana’s share of the winnings is sure to diminish.