Dubuque casinos report another strong month, discuss workforce difficulties

Dubuque’s two casinos reported another strong month in September, with gaming revenues outpacing their totals from two years prior.

Diamond Jo Casino and Q Casino and Hotel together recorded $10.7 million in gaming revenue in September, up from $9.89 million during September 2019. Gaming officials generally are using figures from two years ago as a point of comparison because the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on last year’s results.

These revenue totals were discussed Tuesday at the monthly meeting of the Dubuque Racing Association, the nonprofit license holder for both Dubuque casinos.

Q Casino Vice President and General Manager Brian Rakestraw told attendees that all key performance indicators for the casino were up as compared to September 2019, with the exception of attendance numbers.

“We are doing very well, and we’re really excited about what the future holds here,” he said during the meeting.

In September, Q Casino reported $4.35 million in gaming revenue, which marked a nearly 10% increase from September 2019. At Diamond Jo, gaming revenue came in at $6.35 million, an increase of nearly 7% over 2019’s figures.

Following the meeting, Rakestraw said Q officials have attributed the dip in attendance as compared to 2019 to a decrease in casual, drop-in customers.

“When you look at the true gamers, the people who really enjoy gambling, they’re coming out, but we’re not seeing that everyday retail customer who’s just stopping in for maybe a quick beer or a bite to eat,” he said.

Still, he said, revenue is strong, in part because spending per person is up when compared to 2019.

“(Customers) seem to have more money in their pockets,” he said.

On Tuesday, Q Casino officials also discussed current issues the casino is facing in terms of recruiting employees. Director of Human Resources Tami Schnee described the difficulties as part of a nationwide workforce shortage, and noted that the casino is pursuing an enhanced recruitment program including sign-on and referral bonuses, increased presence at job fairs and more.

Q Casino President and CEO Alex Dixon expressed gratitude to customers for their support of both local casinos.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about how the market is performing and how our customers are really lifting all tides, both for us at Q as well as at the Diamond Jo,” he said. “We’re grateful that our business is growing (and) the hospitality sector is growing, and we want to make sure that we have the workforce in order to be able to meet this growing demand.”