Suffering casinos: Kansas loses out on millions of dollars in revenue and counting

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – State-owned casinos in Kansas are losing out on millions of dollars because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Compared to last year’s revenues, casinos are down more than 90 million dollars since the crisis began.

Casinos closed in March and were shut down for all of April. They began reopening in late May.

The state gets 22 percent of what a casino makes in revenue, which means Kansas has lost about 20 million dollars from casinos alone. That money could be spent on paying down debt and infrastructure improvements or to help reduce taxes.

As the number of cases started to decrease in May and casinos began to reopen, officials noticed a different trend among pent-up gamblers.

“I know what we saw were fewer numbers of people coming into the casino after we reopened, but those people were spending more per person, and so revenue-wise that sort of kept it up a little bit,” said Keith Kocher, director of gaming facilities for the Kansas Lottery. “The numbers really haven’t dropped off that much, but the spend per customer has somewhat dropped off.”

Total revenues were 21 and 17 percent less than 2019 in June and July, respectively.

Keeping the casinos open is providing a portion of what the state expected in dollars coming in.

Officials said people are working hard to keep casinos open by cleaning, having people distance, and requiring masks.

“The casinos are doing their level best to follow all the standards, keep everything spick and span, clean,” Kocher said. “They really have gone above and beyond in my opinion and they’re all four doing a very good job, so I feel they are one of the safer places to go because they’re under a microscope.”

The four state-owned casinos are Boot Hill, Kansas Star, Hollywood and Kansas Crossing.

The four casinos brought in 334 million dollars in revenues last fiscal year, which ended June 30.

The majority of revenues goes to the casino managers, but a portion also heads to local governments and to help address addiction problems.

Kocher said casinos will look at how the pandemic is acting and will listen to what the governor’s office and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are advising.

“Long term goal is certainly to get back to normal, but right now that’s not in the very near future,” Kocher said.

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