September brought a small uptick in casino revenue in the Show Me State. Missouri casinos generated $158.6 million for the month, representing a 1.4% gain from August’s $156.4 million and a 0.5% increase from September 2022’s $157.8 million.
One-quarter of the way through Fiscal Year 2024, Missouri casino revenue totals $483.4 million (-1% year over year), around $4.8 million shy of last year’s Q1. Casinos brought in a record $1.92 billion in revenue in FY 2023.
Ameristar St. Charles tops revenue among casinos in Missouri
While sports betting and online casinos in Missouri remain illegal, 13 riverboat casinos across the state offer all kinds of casino games, including slots, video poker and popular table games like blackjack, roulette and craps.
Three casinos topped $20 million in September revenue. All three posted month-over-month gains, but only two improved from last September.
- Ameristar St. Charles: $24.6 million (+5.4% MoM from $23.3 million; +0.5% YoY from $24.5 million)
- River City Casino: $21.5 million (+4.5% MoM from $20.6 million; +6% YoY from $20.3 million)
- Hollywood Casino St. Louis: $20.5 million (+2.7% MoM from $20 million; -3.1% YoY from $21.2 million)
Five more casinos posted monthly revenue totals above $10 million, including Bally’s Kansas City, which had a best-in-state 19.5% YoY growth. Argosy Kansas City had the most significant YoY drop at -7.9%.
- Ameristar Kansas City: $16.9 million (+3.2% MoM from $16.3 million; -0.6% YoY from $17 million)
- Harrah’s Kansas City: $13.8 million (-1.7% MoM from $14.1 million; -0.1% YoY from $13.85 million)
- Horseshoe St. Louis: $13.6 million (+4.4% MoM from $13.1 million; +0.8% YoY from $13.5 million)
- Argosy: $12.8 million (-9.5% MoM from $14.1 million; -7.9% YoY from $13.9 million)
- Bally’s Kansas City: $11.8 million (+8% MoM from $10.9 million; +19.5% YoY from $9.8 million)
Four of the remaining five casinos took YoY hits.
- Isle Casino Boonville: $7.2 million (-4% MoM from $7.5 million; -7.6% YoY from $7.8 million)
- Century Casino Cape Girardeau: $5.2 million (-12.9% MoM from $6 million; -2.9% YoY from $5.4 million)
- Century Casino Caruthersville: $4 million (+7.1% MoM from $3.8 million; +11.9% YoY from $3.6 million)
- St. Jo Frontier Casino: $3.7 million (-3.1% MoM from $3.9 million; -5.5% YoY from $3.9 million)
- Mark Twain Casino: $2.9 million (+$3K MoM; -7.3% YoY from $3.1 million)
Breaking down the MO numbers
Table games made the difference in September’s gains over August thanks to an impressive 21.3% hold. Its $109.2 million in wagers generated $23.2 million in revenue, up 17.2% from $19.8 million in August and 5% from $22.1 million in September 2022.
Slots remained casinos’ bread and butter, though, recording $1.39 billion in wagers and $135.1 million in revenue (9.7% hold). These numbers represented a slight drop-off from August ($136.4 million; -0.9%) and last September ($135.2 million; -0.1%).
Total admissions grew by 0.6% in September to 2.4 million, roughly 15,000 more visitors than in August. The accompanying admissions fees brought $5.1 million to the state, with the top three casinos coming from the St. Louis area.
- River City Casino: 340,628 admissions; $681,256 in admissions fees
- Ameristar St. Charles: 330,636 admissions; $661,272 in admissions fees
- Hollywood St. Louis: 316,962 admissions; $633,924 in admissions fees
- Ameristar Kansas City: 248,313 admissions; $496,626 in admissions fees
- Bally’s Kansas City: 241,793 admissions; $483,586 in admissions fees
The state’s largest source of revenue comes from taxes, which totaled just shy of $33.3 million (+1.4% MoM from $32.8 million; +0.4% YoY from $33.1 million). Nine casinos contributed at least $2.4 million, with Ameristar St. Charles ($5.2 million) the only casino with a tax bill above $5 million.
A tale of two plateaus
Data from the last 10 years show a plateau of revenue leading up to the 2020 pandemic that Missouri casinos have now broken from since resuming business in full capacity.
Fiscal years 2014-2021 all generated between $1.66 and $1.75 billion in casino revenue, except for 2020’s $1.35 billion.
Of course, casinos hope to see a similar trend of small but continued growth, like between 2014 and 2019. In a perfect world, these numbers reach $2 billion.
But even if FY 2024 does not set a third consecutive record, it figures to break $1.9 billion for the third straight year. And that is nothing to be concerned about.
The solution to increasing revenue
Missouri’s riverboat casino total has remained at 13 since Isle Casino Cape Girardeau (now Century Casino) opened in 2012. Unsurprisingly, a stagnant list of offerings has produced a fairly straight line on the revenue charts.
Prospective Lake of the Ozarks casinos could change that and add additional revenue in the coming years, but gaining approval and licensure requires amending the state constitution. One proposal for a tribal casino has brought about months of inaction at the local and state levels.
However, retail growth only represents the tip of the iceberg for possible Missouri gaming revenue. The state has left millions on the table by failing to legalize sports betting, and it’s all been because of gray-market video lottery terminals (VLTs) that act as a sieve to casino revenue.
Any decision in favor of or against the slots-like machines that are in gas stations and bars across the state would generate more gaming revenue. If legal, VLTs become regulated and taxed. If illegal, players become incentivized to take their business to casinos.
iGaming is the greatest missed opportunity in MO
Above all, online casino gaming represents the final frontier. It may seem too far down the road to think about in the context of Missouri’s current legislative landscape, but it will soon follow the same trajectory as sports betting in 2021.
Seven states have legalized iGaming, and that number will reach double digits next year. Online casinos in New Jersey, Michigan and Pennsylvania are bringing their states tens of millions of dollars in taxes every month.
Missouri has between half and two-thirds as many people as all three states. With a well-designed bill, even a fraction of their totals would significantly boost the state’s cut of gaming revenues.