Slots casino revenue up in February

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff
Posted March 25, 2009, at 10:52 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Net revenue at Hollywood Slots in Bangor increased slightly in February, thanks in part to strong customer crossover from people who were attending the annual high school basketball tournament at nearby Bangor Auditorium.

Slots’ General Manager Jon Johnson briefed members of the state Gambling Control Board on Wednesday about the recent financial picture at Maine’s only casino.

“Business was great during the tournament, particularly in the restaurant,” he said. “It really points out the need for a new arena and civic center, which we think will really create a tremendous attraction.”

Net revenue for February was $4.15 million, an increase of about $150,000 over January and a jump of about $800,000 over February 2008. It should be noted, however, that last year’s numbers represented revenue from 500 slot machines at the facility’s temporary location, while this year’s total accounts for twice that number in the permanent casino.

Still, the numbers were encouraging for Penn National. Beginning last July, revenue had essentially decreased every month through December before rebounding in the first month of 2009.

Johnson also said the recent change allowing early Sunday morning hours at Hollywood Slots, a request the gambling board approved in mid-February, seems to be popular.

“I know the customers in our hotel are very happy about that,” he said.

Scott Woods, the state’s public safety auditor in charge of gambling, agreed.

“February was the highest February we’ve had,” he said. “Money is coming in. And Sunday [revenue] has been a little higher, too, so I think the new hours are helping.”

Gambling board members also were updated on the number of calls taken by the Bangor Police Department for Hollywood Slots. That number was 12 for the entire month of February.

Bangor Police Chief Ron Gastia said that number includes even minor calls such as parking complaints.

“[February] was really no different than any other month,” he said. “We haven’t had any issues there.”

Despite the steady financial picture at Hollywood Slots, Gambling Control Board Executive Director Bob Welch told board members that a good deal of his time lately has been spent in legislative hearings. Several bills have been submitted that would have at least some ramifications for Hollywood Slots.

LD 389 wants to allow the state to seize winnings from “deadbeat dads,” a premise Welch said has generated concern.

“We don’t want our employees to have to tell someone the state is keeping their winnings,” he said.

LD 533 is a concept bill that would allow a state-controlled casino at a to-be-determined location. Welch said a hearing on that bill will be held Monday.

“We’ll be testifying against it,” he told the board.

erussell@bangordailynews.net

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http://bangordailynews.com/2009/03/25/news/bangor/slots-casino-revenue-up-in-february/ printed on November 23, 2014