Dubuque casinos end summer on high note, look to future

Dubuque’s casinos finished the summer on a strong note, and officials are hopeful that the positive vibes can continue as the weather cools.

Diamond Jo Casino and Q Casino and Hotel collectively generated $11.16 million in gaming revenue in August, up from $10.60 million during that same month in August 2019. Gaming officials generally are using figures from two years ago as a point of comparison because the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered results in 2020.

Q Casino President and CEO Alex Dixon discussed the latest figures Tuesday during the monthly meeting of the Dubuque Racing Association, which serves as the nonprofit license holder for both Dubuque casinos.

“People are looking for entertainment, looking for a chance to get out of the house, and they are getting back in touch with the entertainment options that are in their backyard,” Dixon said.

Both casinos recorded a strong month of August.

Diamond Jo grabbed the majority of the local market share with $6.59 million in gaming revenue, an increase of nearly 7% compared to August 2019. Q Casino generated $4.58 million in gaming revenue in August, about 3.4% higher than the same month in 2019.

Q Casino officials pointed toward the venue’s live, outdoor entertainment as a key ingredient to its recent success.

Vice President and General Manager Brian Rakestraw said the casino hosted seven outdoor concerts, as well as a pair of community festivals. These events collectively drew about 15,000 people.

“Coming into this summer, we did not know what was going to happen, but we were really pleased with the result and the attendance we had,” Rakestraw said. “We exceeded our expectations, we exceeded our budget, and we are really looking forward to next year and seeing what else we can do.”

With the outdoor concert series now in the rearview mirror and fall officially underway, Q officials believe other amenities will continue to draw visitors to the property.

Rakestraw noted that Houlihan’s, which is owned by the casino, recently opened a new outdoor seating area. With outdoor heating lamps, it could continue to draw customers in the fall and winter.

Rakestraw also emphasized that Q Showroom, located in the casino, will continue to offer live entertainment even as temperatures cool.

The September DRA meeting marked the second such meeting since Alex Dixon took the reins as president and CEO.

Dixon hinted at major initiatives in 2022 that would “raise the level of hospitality at Q” and help the organization take on a more active role in the community.

“Right now, we are getting all the pieces in place to understand what we can do,” he said. “… We are in the process of listening and getting a sense of what our customers want and what the community wants.”