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May Revenue Keeps Kansas Casinos On Recovery Trajectory

Written By Derek Helling on June 21, 2023
infant crawling on floor represents kansas casinos' attempts to return to revenue totals they posted before the COVID-19 pandemic

The natural progression for human locomotion proceeds from simply rolling over to running wild. As another fiscal year approaches its end for Kansas’ commercial casinos, what started out as running toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have slowed to a crawl.

The four casinos in the state posted their strongest revenue in the fiscal year prior to the pandemic. While each year has represented a move back toward that height, the fiscal year that will end with June 2023 will likely represent the smallest such move yet.

Kansas casinos collect $32 million in May gaming revenue

According to the Kansas Lottery, the four casinos it leases to operational partners posted $32.5 million in gaming revenue for May. That’s down about 8.5% from Kansas April casino revenue and 2.8% from the same month in 2022.

All four of the properties were mostly flat from their individual numbers for May 2022. The deviations ranged from 2% better (Kansas Crossing Casino) to a drop of 4.3% (Kansas Star Casino).

Their May numbers do keep the four properties on pace to post a very slight improvement over the 2021-22 fiscal year. The Kansas Lottery’s fiscal years start in July and end in June.

The most lucrative fiscal year for Kansas casinos yet was FY2018-19. Naturally, the COVID-19 pandemic has dashed hopes of building upon that momentum since. The casinos have been building back toward that mark, though. That move would be better characterized as a crawling motion than step, though.

Kansas casinos need record June

The rate of growth from one fiscal year to the next has slowed for Kansas casinos. From FY2019-20 to FY2020-21, they improved by 11.9%. In FY21-22, the increase was 6.6%. Through the first 11 months, FY22-23 is up just 1.15%.

The likelihood of FY22-23 finishing ahead of FY21-22 is very good. The four properties need just $25.2 million in June revenue to do so. That would represent just 77.5% of what they made in May or 80% of their revenue from June of last year.

Getting back to their pre-pandemic levels is a much taller task, though. To accomplish that, the four casinos will need the best June they’ve ever had.

infographic comparing kansas casino revenue from 2019 to 2023

A strong June could still represent less of a slowdown in terms of moving toward pre-pandemic levels. That would increase optimism that Kansas’ casinos could someday reach those heights again. While Kansas casinos have history to contend with, sports betting in the same state is still writing that legacy.

Sportsbook activity hits new low in May

With no NFL betting and the Kansas City Royals struggling to compete, Kansas bettors continue to find other things to spend their money on. In May, residents and visitors to the state wagered just $120.3 million on sports via Kansas’ licensed sportsbooks.

That’s the lowest such figure for any single month since legal sports betting began in the state in September 2022. However, the sportsbooks didn’t fare too poorly in terms of keeping a solid chunk of the money that Kansans did bet.

The four physical and five online sportsbooks combined to win $14.6 million from bettors during the month. That represents a very solid 12.1% of the amount of money that bettors put down. From that $14.6 million in win, Kansas stands to collect $887,390 in taxes.

These numbers represent the best-ever figures for the month of May in Kansas because it was the first month of May with legal sports betting in the state. Whether Kansas sportsbooks will improve upon them in the future remains to be seen, just like June’s gaming revenue will show how much progress the casinos are making toward pandemic recovery.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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