Missouri casinos take in record $123.6 million in March

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- March was another record month for the gambling industry in Missouri, with the state's 11 casinos reporting revenues of $123.6 million.

Ameristar Casinos Inc. led the way with its casinos in both the St. Louis and Kansas City areas producing a combined total of $45.8 million, according to Missouri Gaming Commission reports.

The take at the St. Charles Ameristar Casino was $25.5 million, a 13.3 percent rise from the same month last year and a record monthly amount for a one-boat casino operation. The Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City had gross revenues of $20.3 million, a 14.3 percent increase and the first $20 million month for a Kansas City area casino.

The March total for all of the state's casinos represented a 5.5 percent increase from a year ago. Six of the casinos posted gains from March of last year.

In the St. Louis market, revenues totaled $77.6 million, an increase of 2.4 percent, while the Kansas City area casinos produced a record $57.8 million, up from the mark of $57.2 million set the previous month, and 6.5 percent above the total for March of last year.

Elsewhere in the industry, revenue gains for the month totaled 5.8 percent in Iowa, 4.4 percent in Louisiana and 4.3 percent in Atlantic City. But Illinois continued to slump, with revenues there down by 7.9 percent.

Jim Oberkirsch, an analyst with the Missouri Gaming Commission, pointed to industry expansion and development of new casino products.

The Argosy Riverside Casino, which opened its expanded operation in December, showed a 46.6 percent revenue growth for March.

Argosy general manager Gary Johnson said that while enhancements at Argosy and other properties were a big factor in market growth, so was a growing consumer confidence in the reviving economy.

"Every economic report I hear is the experts saying retail sales are way up," he said. "People have a lot more confidence and are buying things and spending their dollars on entertainment."

Dave Albrecht, general manager of Kansas City market leader Ameristar, also cited the economic recovery and renewed market vitality driven by the Argosy expansion.

"Argosy has revitalized the gaming market in Kansas City," Albrecht said. "It's getting some new customers that find it convenient. And whenever you create a new customer, everybody gets an opportunity to make that customer their customer."

Argosy, Ameristar and Isle of Capri have all set new revenue records in the Kansas City market for the first quarter of the year.

But Harrah's, which once led the way in Kansas City, saw its share of the market continue to decline, to 27.55 percent from 34.87 percent a year ago. Its revenue of $15.9 million for the month was down 15.8 percent from March of last year.

Harrah's slide from the market dominance began after Ameristar completed a $65 million upgrade last summer. In March Ameristar took 35.23 percent of the Kansas City market revenue, compared with 32.86 percent a year ago. Argosy rose to 21.65 percent of the market, from 15.76 percent in March 2003.

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