Dubuque casinos report increased gaming revenue in 2021

Dubuque’s two casinos ended 2021 on a high note.

Q Casino and Diamond Jo Casino collectively generated gaming revenue of $130.7 million in 2021, surpassing 2019’s total of $120.6 million, according to reports from the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission.

Diamond Jo reported $76.8 million in gaming revenue last year, compared to $70.9 million in 2019. Q Casino reported gaming revenue of $53.9 million in 2021, compared to its 2019 total of $49.7 million. That means both casinos saw an increase of more than 8%.

Gaming officials generally have been using 2019 as a point of comparison to 2021 because the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted 2020 results.

Monthly and yearly revenue figures for the two casinos, as well as a review of 2021 and a look ahead to 2022, were discussed Tuesday at a meeting of the Dubuque Racing Association, the nonprofit license holder for both casinos.

Kathy Buhr, the DRA’s director of strategic philanthropy and Chaplain Schmitt Island development, said Tuesday that Q Casino’s net income in fiscal year 2021 was $13.3 million, an increase of 98% over fiscal year 2019.

Q Casino President and CEO Alex Dixon, who was not at Tuesday’s meeting, previously told the Telegraph Herald that the main reason for the casino’s increased profits was a significant decline in operating and marketing expenses.

Buhr also told board members that the DRA’s final distribution from 2021 totaled $12,017,639.

“It’s pretty incredible,” she said of the record-breaking total.

Under a new lease agreement with the City of Dubuque, those funds will be divided three ways, with one-third going to the city, one-third to charities and the last third to funding improvements to Chaplain Schmitt Island.

“With that new lease agreement, we have enabled Schmitt Island development to move forward,” Buhr said.

Both facilities also reported strong years in terms of sports wagering, which the racing and gaming commission reports separately from revenue generated by table games and slot machines.

FanDuel Sportsbook, located within Diamond Jo Casino, earned the lion’s share of sports betting profits in the Dubuque market. Bettors wagered $289.6 million there in 2021. Payouts to these bettors totaled $267.7 million, resulting in “net receipts” of about $21.8 million.

Q Sportsbook took in $10.8 million in wagers in 2021. Payouts totaled $10 million, with net receipts coming in around $761,000.

Looking ahead to 2022, Buhr told attendees at Tuesday’s meeting that the DRA will be “reaffirming our mission and vision” and developing a set of core values as the organization evolves its brand. The DRA also will distribute the $12 million and complete a philanthropic review of its charitable giving.

Board members also reviewed the monthly finances from December 2021.

In that month, Q Casino reported $4.35 million in gaming revenue, an increase of 4.8% compared to December 2019. Diamond Jo’s revenue dropped from $6.28 million in December 2019 to $5.99 million in December 2021.

Officials from Diamond Jo Casino did not respond to a request for comment following the meeting.

Kevin Lynch, chair of the DRA’s executive committee, said after the meeting that 2022 will be a year of “laying the groundwork” for improvements to Chaplain Schmitt Island and renovations at the Q Casino facility, although he could not offer specifics as to what that remodel might entail.

“I think we’re really going to start seeing positive things happening, not just here, but on Chaplain Schmitt Island,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting to see some of the things that come out of this next year.”

Lynch noted that the next month’s DRA meeting will be held at the Diamond Jo Casino, marking the first time the organization will meet in that location. He said the decision was intended to show the DRA’s support for both Dubuque gaming facilities.

“It’s time that we start thinking about gaming in Dubuque as not being just at one or the other casino. It should be a total experience for both,” he said. “… Hopefully, we can work together to build up our community and just keep things going.”