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Casino meeting its financial goals

Made $7.6 million revenue in 31 days

Rachel Gallegos

Iowa City Press-Citizen

October 10, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Press-Citizen, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

In its first 31 days, the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort admitted nearly 125,000 people and made more than $7.6 million in adjusted gross revenue, according to data from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

Its adjusted gross revenue for September ranked the Riverside casino third among the 13 casinos in the state that do not have racetracks and are not Indian gaming facilities. Harrah's Casino & Hotel and the Ameristar Casino & Hotel in Council Bluffs earned more.

The Ameristar Casino & Hotel, with more than 251,000 guests in September, had adjusted gross revenue of more than $15 million. Harrah's, with more than 180,000 guests, brought in more than $8 million.

"We're at our projections or maybe a little above," chief executive officer Dan Kehl said about the casino's revenue. "We're satisfied with our numbers."

The data tables for September, posted online Monday, showed that the win per person at the casino was $61, with an average daily win per table game of $845 and an average daily win per slot machine of $178.

The casino opened its doors Aug. 31. That day, the casino admitted more than 2,000 people and had adjusted gross revenue of $170,488, according to commission data for August.

The casino reported more than 50,000 guests opening weekend, which coincided with Labor Day weekend.

The resort still is working on increasing its hotel occupancy numbers, Kehl said. He said marketing efforts for out-of-state markets such as Chicago are under way and already the resort is seeing a number of visitors from Western Illinois.

Before the casino and resort opened, its officials estimated 1.6 million visitors a year. That's more than 133,000 visitors a month, if divided evenly -- a number they did not reach from Aug. 31 to Sept. 30.

But Kehl said casino officials are not concerned too much by this because revenue numbers are more important, and the location of the turnstiles in the casino may be a factor.

"We're feeling pretty confident where we're sitting right now," he said.

The $140 million project opened two years to the day after 52.2 percent of Washington County voters approved the gambling referendum, the closest margin of any of the 15 county gambling referendum votes that took place in 2003 and 2004.

Along with 58,000 square feet of gaming space, the resort features a 201-room hotel, four restaurants, an event center, spa and an 18-hole golf course designed by Rees Jones that is set to open in June 2007.

Casino general manager Joe Massa presented the casino's first check for the city of Riverside to the City Council on Oct. 2 for more than $146,000. Based on an agreement made between the city and the casino in April 2005, the city will receive $1.7 million a year in equal monthly installments.

So far, popular areas have been Ruthie's Steak & Seafood, the Show Lounge and of course, the gaming floor, Kehl said.

People wagered more than $4.6 million at the 22 blackjack tables during September. From those tables, the casino revenue was more than $598,000 -- or 12.78 percent.

For slot machines, people put in a total of:

Nearly $11 million at the 116 nickel slot machines.

More than $28 million in the 331 quarter slot machines.

More than $5 million at the 44 dollar slot machines.

Slot revenue made up more than 85 percent of the overall adjusted gross revenue for the casino in September.