Columbus, OH --- Scioto Downs, which is undergoing a major renovation of its clubhouse dining room and first-level simulcast area, experienced a 45% increase in live pari-mutuel handle and a 26.3% hike in live and simulcast handle on track from June through December 2012, the Ohio State Racing Commission reported Jan. 10.
The video lottery terminal facility at the Columbus racetrack opened June 1, 2012. Increases in on-track horse race wagering aren’t common when gaming machines are introduced, but Scioto Downs has bucked the trend thus far, according to the figures.
“That’s a remarkable number, and there is more to come,” OSRC chairman Robert Schmitz said.
“It was surprising,” said Marty Evans, OSRC public information officer. “Once the VLTs started, wagering on horse race came along with it.”
The Scioto Downs clubhouse dining room, which overlooks the racetrack, can accommodate about 500 people, said Stacy Cahill, general manager of racing operations at Scioto Downs. On Friday and Saturday nights during racing the restaurant, which also attracts gaming patrons, is usually full, she said.
Cahill said she hopes the renovations, which will provide a little more space between tables and other amenities, are completed in time for the early May return of live harness racing.
Overall in Ohio, live and simulcast handle at the seven commercial tracks dropped 7.4% to $212.26 million, according to OSRC statistics. Evans noted 2012 “was a year of transition,” with Thistledown near Cleveland starting construction on a VLT parlor in the grandstand and Beulah Park near Columbus cutting back on simulcasts after Scioto went day and night, seven days a week.
In the mid- to late 1990s after full-card simulcasts were legalized, total handle at the seven tracks topped $600 million a year.
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