Kansas Crossing revenue down 25 percent in 2020

Jonathan Riley
Morning Sun
Kansas Crossing Casino reopened last May with new "Extra Care" coronavirus precautions following the statewide lockdown that started in March.

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Kansas’ four state-owned casinos collectively saw a 28 percent revenue decrease last year, bringing in about $300 million in 2020 compared to $416 million in 2019. While Kansas Crossing Casino in Pittsburg was not the hardest hit, it saw its revenue fall by 25 percent, or almost $9 million, compared to the previous year. 

“It’s been a really difficult year for a lot of businesses and obviously, our casinos are part of that,” Stephen Durrell, executive director of the Kansas Lottery, told the Wichita Eagle. The Kansas Lottery owns the four casinos, although they are operated by private companies. 

A year ago, Kansas Crossing was doing well, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars more in January and February of 2020 compared to the same months of 2019, according to monthly revenue reports from the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, public gathering restrictions, and stay-home orders.  

Kansas Crossing’s revenue in March 2020 was less than half what it was in March 2019. In April of 2019, Kansas Crossing brought in nearly $3 million. Last April, like the state’s other three casinos, Kansas Crossing generated no revenue at all.  

In May, the casino was able to reopen, but also had to implement COVID-19 safety measures including reduced occupancy requirements, and barely reached a third of its revenue from May 2019 by the end of the month. Since then, the differences have been less dramatic. Kansas Crossing brought in half a million dollars less in June 2020 than in June of the previous year. In the first half of fiscal year 2021, which began in July, the casino made $15.36 million compared to $17.43 million in the same period in fiscal year 2020. 

Still, Kansas Crossing was not hit as hard by the pandemic as the Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, which has typically relied more heavily on poker revenue than the others, and where revenue fell by about 35 percent, from more than $150 million in 2019 to less than $100 million in 2020. The other two casinos in Mulvane and Dodge City saw revenue drops of 24 percent and 22 percent, respectively. 

Three percent of Kansas Crossing’s revenue goes to local government, which translates to more than $60,000 more in local revenue in the first half of fiscal year 2020 compared to the same months of fiscal year 2021. The City of Pittsburg prepared for the worst at the start of the pandemic, however, and remains in better-than-expected financial shape today, according to Larissa Bowman, the city’s finance director. 

“2020 was a very different year, as we know, one that we didn’t really expect,” Bowman said in presenting the bi-monthly budget review at last week’s city commission meeting. “Early March the pandemic hit and we didn’t really know what would happen, so the finance team along with leadership began to adjust the budget, not knowing what the year would hold, and we had to make some hard decisions.” 

By the end of the year, though, Pittsburg “came out strong and resilient” and “with funds that are healthy,” Bowman said, adding that the city was still able to accomplish many of its original goals for 2020. 

Neither Bowman or Kansas Crossing could be reached Monday to comment specifically on the casino’s decreased revenue last year or the portion of that revenue that goes to local government.