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Revenue At Kansas City, Kansas Casino Plummets Cutting Into Unified Government Budget

Revenue at the Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kansas has plummeted as have other state-owned casinos in Kansas.
Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3
Revenue at the Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kansas has plummeted as have other state-owned casinos in Kansas.

The Hollywood Casino next to the Kansas Speedway was closed for a month by the coronavirus pandemic and has seen revenue significantly shrink. Falling revenue at the casino means falling revenue for the Unified Government.

The coronavirus pandemic has cut into the revenue of every government at every level. But the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas has an unusual problem, part of its budget is tied to casino gambling.

Since the start of the pandemic in March, the bottom has dropped out of revenue from the Hollywood Casino next to the Kansas Speedway. According to monthly reports from the state Racing and Gaming Commission, revenue at the casino is down 46% from the same time last year.

And that means the UG has taken a similar hit. "It's been a huge impact on us," spokesman Mike Taylor told KCUR.

The Unified Government receives three percent of gross revenue at the state-owned casino. Last year that put $5.7 million in the bank. The UG expects to collect 25% less this year or about $4.4 million. However, business at the casino will have to pick up to meet that estimate.

Between March and July (the last report available), the UG share of revenue was about $663,000. Last year during the same period the UG raked in about $1.3 million. That is a 48% decline.

The casino closed in April and hours have been cut since it reopened. And, what makes matters worse is that casino revenue had been increasing two to three percent a year, according to the Unified Government CFO Kathleen VonAchen.

Casino money only represents three percent of the total UG budget, but sales tax collection is also slightly down which means there is belt-tightening.

After the first of the year the UG "may be looking at layoffs," Taylor said.

Revenue is also down at the other three state-owned casinos; the Kansas Crossing Casino in Pittsburg, the Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City and the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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