Cape casino's attendance drops sharply

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The number of visitors to the Isle Casino Cape Girardeau dropped 42 percent in May from a peak of 123,000 in March.

Just two months after that high point, 71,739 people visited the casino ‑ the lowest total for a full month since the casino opened Oct. 30, 2012. The casino paid $1,045,778 in gaming taxes to the state in May, 10 percent of which goes to the Cape Girardeau city government, and $329,768 in admission fees, 50 percent of which goes to the city, bringing the city's May casino revenue to about $269,442. The city collected about $448,695 from fees and taxes generated in March and about $316,500 in April.

The casino collected an average of $69.42 from each patron, up from $61.88 in March and unchanged from April.

The local casino was the only one of the 13 in the state to experience an attendance decline from April to May. Attendance was 81,896 in April. Gross receipts were down at Isle Casino Cape Girardeau from nearly $5.7 million in April to less than $5 million in May.

Mayor Harry E. Rediger said he's not seen how much money the city received from the casino for May, but the drop in attendance did not alarm him.

"They've been all over the board in promotions," he said. "They had heavy promotions in February and March. They're still trying to figure out who their customers are and what can of promotions to do."

Rediger attributed the drop in attendance from March to April to a drop in the number of weekends. "There were five weekends in March and only four weekends in April," he said.

A former retailer, the mayor understands "growing pains."

"The first thing we wanted to do is to go around the horn so we'd have comparable figures," Rediger said.

In other words, once the casino has been open a full year, officials will have figures from the previous year to compare and more easily ascertain business trends.

Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. released its fourth-quarter results last week. Combined net revenue in Boonville, Caruthersville and Kansas City decreased during the quarter by $8.5 million, to $47.9 million. Cape Girardeau generated net revenue of $16.7 million. Cape Girardeau, according to an Isle of Capri Inc. news release, had an adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $1.6 million.

"We recently made significant changes to our management and marketing strategy that, we believe, will benefit EBIDTA moving forward as we refine our operations in a developing market," according to the news release.

The casino's general manager, Chet Koch, was replaced by an interim administrator in early May. During a conference call, chief financial officer Dale Black said a search is under way for a permanent CEO in Cape Girardeau, and one should be in place later this summer.

Black said it takes time for a new casino to begin performing at levels expected.

"We still think, in the long term, it takes three years for these new properties to hit their stride," Black said.

The Missouri Gaming Commission released a monthly earnings report Monday for casinos in the state. Visitors are tracked in two categories. "Patrons" refers to the number of people who come through the turnstiles to the casino floor. "Admissions" means the number of two-hour increments documented for each visitor, which is calculated by tracking entries and exits, according to commission officials.

May admissions were 164,884 in Cape Girardeau, down from 197,111 in April. Per patron, the admissions rate was 2.30, down from 2.41 in April, suggesting patrons did not stay as long on average in May, compared to April.

jpulliam@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

777 N. Main St.; Cape Girardeau, MO

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