Dubuque casinos record revenue dip in May

Dubuque’s two casinos both saw a dip in gaming revenues last month compared to one year earlier, which officials attributed to ongoing economic pressures such as inflation and rising gas prices.

Leaders of the DRA — the nonprofit license holder for Dubuque’s casinos, which legally is called the Dubuque Racing Association — discussed the decrease in revenues at their monthly board meeting on Tuesday.

“May was a tough month for gaming in Dubuque,” Alex Dixon, president and CEO of Q Casino, said during the meeting. “ … We saw broadly across our market, in both of our facilities, that there was just difficulty.”

Diamond Jo Casino and Q Casino reported a combined $10.8 million in gaming revenue in May, down about 12% from the May 2021 total of $12.3 million.

Diamond Jo reported $6.3 million in gaming revenue in May, down from $7.1 million in May 2021. Q Casino generated $4.5 million in gaming revenue last month, compared to $5.2 million during the same time period last year.

Brian Rakestraw, Q Casino’s chief operations financial officer, said last month’s downturn in gaming revenue extended across the Midwest.

“If you look all across Iowa, across Missouri, they all saw decreases as compared to last year,” he said after the meeting. “I think with the gas prices, the economy, the inflation and things happening, people are really watching their budgets and disposable income a little bit tighter.”

He said Q Casino officials have seen the most significant decline in gaming revenue from individuals who must travel longer distances to the casino, which they attribute to continually rising gas prices.

“We’re seeing that what we call our middle market and outer market, which is probably 25 miles or further out, is where we’re seeing the largest decrease, compared to Dubuque and our local market,” he said.

Both Dixon and Rakestraw emphasized that strong revenues in the first four months of the year mean that Q Casino remains in a positive financial position for the year overall. Increases in other aspects of operations last month, including hotel bookings, also helped buoy the casino’s finances despite the gaming revenue downturn.

“We are being diligent within the business to make sure that we are mindful of expenses,” Dixon said at the meeting. “Fortunately, we’ve had a great start to 2022, and so we foresee that we’re going to be just fine as it relates to full-year results, but this is concerning as it relates to the overall market.”