KC casinos have record month for third time in '04

Monday, June 14, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Gamblers at Kansas City casinos are on the verge of losing an average of $2 million a day.

The revenue record for one month was set in May when gamblers lost $57.9 million. That eclipses the former record set in March at $57.8 million, which nudged out the previous record of $57.2 million set a month before.

Aggressive marketing and promotion strategies at the riverboats are credited for much of the growth.

"This growth is being driven to a large extent by marketing," said Jim Oberkirsch, an analyst for the Missouri Gaming Commission. "The casinos could turn the spigot off and we could see these numbers flatten out literally overnight."

The average per-person loss fell by about 1 percent in May, to $57.53 per person, but admissions were up 9 percent over May 2003 at 2.1 million.

Marketing budgets at the city's casinos is up a collective 26 percent during the first quarter of this year from the same period a year ago.

Ameristar Casino Kansas City general manager Dave Albrecht said growth in casino marketing budgets often mirrors growth in revenue.

"If you give a certain percentage of your play back to customers, even without changing your marketing strategies, the amount of revenue will increase," Albrecht said. "It's just a natural thing that happens."

Ameristar remains Kansas City's most lucrative casino, bringing in $20.1 million in May -- the second highest month in property and market history. It's 14.5 percent higher than the same month a year ago.

If the growth trend continues, experts believe the $2 million a day mark could be hit in Kansas City during the busy summer travel season.

Statewide, revenue at Missouri's 11 casinos was up 8.2 percent to a record $124.2 million. Ameristar Casino St. Charles was the biggest money-winner at $25.7 million in May.

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