As competition across the United States heats up for your land-based casino business, various governments around the country are doing everything they can to entice players at home to stay in their state – and encourage players from outside the state to make the drive across state lines.
Over in Ohio, Scioto Downs Racino recently unveiled a plan to build a 230-seat craft brewery and restaurant to the tune of $5.9 million. Recognizing that they need to do more to attract people to the property, the racino is expanding beyond traditional gaming to entice new types of customers.
If successful, more and more casinos might have to do the same – not as an offensive mechanism to gain business, but us a defensive mechanism to balance out lost revenue on the gaming floor.
You see, the government of Ohio once to start taxing the promotional credits that the Ohio casinos hand out to players to entice them to play. We’re serious. Just like you can get free credits to play at Slots of Vegas online, loyal players can earn free credits to play at the casino in the form of match play and straight up casino chips. But that could change.
The government wants a piece of the action. They argue that the free play handed out by four casinos and seven racinos in the state adds up to $165 million in lost tax revenue. They continue to argue that this type of money would have gone to governments and schools across the state.
If Ohio was the only player on the scene, this might be an OK idea. But they’re not. Across state lines in Pennsylvania and Indiana, the governments there have initiatives in place to support their gaming industries. The competition for business is huge and by taxing free play, casinos could suffer.
I don’t believe free casino credits should be taxed. Free play is not casino revenue. It is essentially part of a marketing budget. At Slots of Vegas, we offer free chip bonuses and match bonuses to new players. We also offer ongoing benefits to our long-term players. And while it costs us millions of dollars, it’s part of our marketing budget – no different than spending money on web banners, TV advertisements, or glossy magazine ads.
If freeplay is taxed, players will no doubt be affected. While they won’t necessarily be responsible for paying the taxes, casinos will definitely scale back on the funds they hand out, which means less incentive to play live.
We don’t want to see this measure passed. While many of our online competitors view land-based casinos as the competition, we love it when our players enjoy live games at local casinos. We’re all about fun and hate to see live casinos close their doors, especially because of a foolish move by the government.