Gamblers Put Record-Smashing Sums Into Ohio Slot Machines Last Month

Ohio’s four Las Vegas-style casinos had an unusually winning month in March.

The properties, located in Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, won a combined $91.6 million last month, a whopping 8.7% jump over the previous record in March 2013, News5Cleveland noted. Back in March 2013, the casinos also did not have competition from the racinos.

The warming weather in March and increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates, combined with federal pandemic stimulus money, all probably played a key role in the record-breaking month. The latest round of stimulus checks ($1,400) went out last month.

The record-breaking winnings also came despite sports betting being available in most of Ohio’s neighbors, including online betting. Michigan in January also debuted online casino gaming, likely drawing in some Ohioans from the Toledo area right near the border.

Ohioans could not place traditional sports wagers on March Madness anywhere legally in the state.

None of that ultimately mattered since Ohioans bet big at the casinos. The state does not release data on casino admissions, so it is unclear if more people gambled last month than typically do.

The seven racinos, which do not have table games but do have video lottery terminals (basically a slot machine), also had a huge month against gamblers. The racinos bested their gaming win record they set in March 2019. They won $124.2 million, up about 20% over the previous record, despite, as the report noted, social distancing requiring a 10% reduction in the number of slot machines available for use.

What led to the record at the casinos?

In March 2013, the casinos had $121,426,817 in table game drop and $24,495,494 in table game win.

In March 2021, the casinos had $103,254,231 in table game drop and $23,623,577 in table game win.

So, the casinos actually saw less money bet at the table games, such as craps and blackjack, last month than they had when they set their previous monthly record.

The one-armed bandits were the reason for the record last month.

In March 2013 the casinos had slot machine coin-in of $633,055,582, winning $59,791,932 from gamblers.

In March 2021, they had a whopping $807,149,396 of coin-in, winning $68,015,407 from gamblers.

Coin-in is the total amount of money played on the machines.

The $807 million in coin-in from last month was nearly $200 million more than was seen in February.

The casinos also saw a huge jump of coin-in in July 2020, as the summer arrived following the COVID-19 economic shutdown. The slot machines had $749,760,747 in coin-in that month, by far the most of any month last year. No month in 2019 had anywhere close to $700 million in coin-in.

It does appear some Ohioans used their $1,400 stimulus check that went out in March for slot gambling.

Here’s a look at casino average monthly coin-in since 2013:

[table id=162 /]

As for the racinos, the Ohio Lottery reported that they had $1,306,937,373 in “credits played” last month.

That was also a state record.