After being closed for about two months, Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway reported gaming revenues of $4.3 million in seven days of gaming at the end of May.
The casino in Kansas City, Kansas, reopened on May 25 with long lines outside waiting to get in. Because of the risk of COVID-19, the state casinos had been shut the entire month of April, half of March and most of May.
“There was obviously some pent-up demand based on numbers over the weekend,” said Catherine Moyer, chairman of the Kansas Lottery Commission, which met Wednesday afternoon in a telephone conference call.
Keith Kocher, the Kansas Lottery’s director of program assurance and integrity, reported that Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City, which reopened May 22, reported revenues of about $960,000; Kansas Star Casino, Mulvane, Kansas, which reopened May 23, reported revenues of $4.97 million; and Kansas Crossing, Pittsburg, Kansas, which reopened May 22, reported revenues of $1.16 million.
A year ago, in May 2019, Hollywood Casino reported gaming revenues of $13.5 million, according to state records. In April 2020, revenues were zero.
The casinos reopened in Phase 2 of the Kansas recovery plan.
“I want to stress the great job that the casinos did putting together a joint health and safety plan,” Kocher said. The plan went to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Kansas Lottery and the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission for approval. Few changes were made to the plan, he said.
Kocher said changes were made to the casinos’ floors for social distancing and health measures. Hollywood Casino reopened with 926 machines, with 2,000 the normal amount. Boot Hill has about 270 machines in operation, while it normally has about 650. Kansas Star has about 767 slot machines currently, out of 1,750 under normal circumstances. Kansas Crossing has 262 machines, and normally has about 625, he said.
Table games at the casinos were affected, and he added that there is no poker being played now at the casinos, because in that game cards are handled and players sit next to each other.
Kocher said for fiscal 2020, casino revenues are down by about 18.5 percent, with individual casinos ranging from 17 to 22 percent, year over year.
“We don’t know yet when the next phase will go into effect,” he said. They continue to have weekly phone conferences with the casinos, he added.
Stephen Durrell, executive director of the Kansas Lottery, also complimented the casinos for their reopening plans. He said there is constant monitoring of the casinos, 24-7, by the state and the KRGC. They are watching the casinos closely, monitoring health.
While the casinos were closed, the sales of some lottery tickets in Kansas were increasing, according to lottery officials.
Durrell said instant games had thrived during the shutdown. Apparently while people were out shopping a grocery stores and gas stations, they bought instant game tickets.
Instant game tickets were up about 14 percent in May, compared to last May, he said.
However, all the draw games were down, Durrell said. Overall, ticket sales were down about a little less than 9 percent, he added. As the economy opens up, he said he expected the games to rebound.
Durrell credited improvements in the sales of some of the lottery tickets to the marketing and retail staff. He also said there is a popular Facebook page for the lottery, run by the lottery’s social media manager, that has attracted a huge following.
The last couple of months, most people were stuck at home and looking for things to do, he said. They were able to buy tickets and bring them home. Whether that will continue this month to the next fiscal year, they wll have to wait and see, he said.
Lottery member Jim Washington pointed out that they may see some improvement in sales for Mega Millions and Powerball, as the Mega Millions jackpot is up to $378 million and Powerball is up to $135 million.
The Kansas Lottery had some winners that were scheduled to attend the Kansas Speedway spring races, originally scheduled Memorial Day weekend, for their prize. Durrell said the prize was unavailable as the race was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and hasn’t been rescheduled yet.
He said the lottery decided to award the cash amount named in the prize, plus $3,000 worth of Play On points, to the winners. It was “the best we could do under the circumstances,” he added. He said he looked forward to continuing the speedway lottery contest this fall.