Dubuque casino gaming revenue, attendance declines in February

Brian Rakestraw

Following a positive financial start for 2021, Dubuque casinos are now reporting drops in both gaming revenue and attendance as cold winter weather likely kept people away from the establishments.

Diamond Jo and Q Casino reported about $8.6 million in gaming revenue combined in February, a decrease of about 17% from February 2020. It’s also a combined 11.5% decrease from January, as both casinos kicked off this year by reporting gaming revenue increases from a year prior.

When comparing February 2021 and February 2020 — the last full month casinos were open without any COVID-19 effects — Diamond Jo saw a 15.1% decrease in gaming revenue and Q Casino a 19.4% decrease.

Diamond Jo generated just over $5 million in gaming revenue last month, down from the February 2020 total of $5.9 million. Q Casino brought in $3.6 million in gaming revenue in February, down from $4.4 million in the same month last year.

These decreases were shared with the Dubuque Racing Association Board of Directors at a Tuesday virtual meeting. The DRA is the nonprofit license holder for both Dubuque casinos.

“February was a tough month in relation to overall revenue, especially with Mother Nature affecting things,” Q Casino General Manager Brian Rakestraw said before sharing the numbers.

He noted that casinos in neighboring states like Illinois and Missouri also saw similar double-digit declines in gaming revenue last month.

Plunging temperatures likely kept people indoors for a portion of February, as some days recorded high temperatures hovering just above or below zero.

This weather was cited as the reason for further drops in attendance. Dubuque casinos were visited by a combined 79,062 people in February — a 45.9% attendance drop compared to February 2020.

Diamond Jo welcomed 41,969 people in February while Q Casino saw 37,093 people. Their respective attendance declines from the same time period last year were 47.9% and 43.5%.

Despite all of the decreases, officials are remaining positive about the direction 2021 has taken thus far. Both casinos reported overall gaming revenue and attendance declines for 2020, and they completely closed their doors from mid-March to the end of May last year due to COVID-19.

So far for 2021, the casinos have been able to bring in over $10.3 million in gaming revenue with some COVID-19 restrictions still in place. Rakestraw also noted that expenses were down last month compared to both February 2020 and 2019.

“The numbers of January and February so far have been very reassuring,” Q Casino CEO Jesus Aviles said. “We are moving in the right direction. … We’ve had pretty good months these past two months, even when comparing to 2019.”