Monitor Gambling Trends Closely

Strangely enough, a report that first-quarter revenue was down at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in Chester may contain a grain of good news.

MTR?Gaming Group, the casino’s parent company, reported first-quarter revenue at Mountaineer was down 6.6 percent in comparison to the same period last year. Bad weather and competition from gambling venues in nearby states were blamed.

But MTR also noted first-quarter revenue for its Presque Isle Downs & Casino in?Erie, Pa., was down – by 11.9 percent. Revenue for the company’s Scioto Downs in Columbus also dipped, but only by 0.5 percent.

Most of us remember the just-ended winter with no fondness. There were many evenings when most people decided staying home was a good idea.

And given Mountaineer’s location – not in a major city as Scioto Downs and Presque Isle Downs are – weather clearly kept many gamblers away.

We have warned the best days for casinos in West Virginia – in terms of tax revenue collected – are behind state policymakers. But the drop-off at Mountaineer could have been much worse. Clearly, state officials should analyze results at all four casino-racetracks for clues concerning whether patronize may be stabilizing. Second-quarter numbers should be illuminating.