Decrease in casino revenue impacts local city

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Reporter - Robert Bradfield
Photojournalist - Randall Barnes
Web Editor - Mason Stevenson

METROPOLIS, Ill. -   The city of Metropolis, Illinois is on pace to be down almost $700,000 this year on gaming revenue from Harrah's.

Mayor Billy McDaniel says there are two main reasons for it:  the economy and the opening of The Isle Casino in Gape Girardeau, Missouri in 2012.

Metropolis expects to pull in about $5.3 million this year.  That's down from a previous projection of $6 million.

Mayor McDaniel says some future cuts could happen, but he thinks a solid summer could turn things around.  He doesn't feel The Isle Casino is to blame entirely for the decrease in Harrah's revenue, but he does say his budget has been affected by the Isle's opening.  In March alone, they missed budget by about $79,000.

He expects the budget shortfall to be much higher before the year is out.

"I guarantee we are going to be between $500,000 and $700,000 shy," McDaniel said.  "It's hard to say whether it's a dip because of the economy or a dip because of the competition and I am sure it is a little bit of both."

While McDaniel is worried about losing money, Harrah's marketing director, Chad Lewis, is worried about much more, including losing customers to The Isle Casino.  However, he says increases and decreases come in cycles.

"It's not a constant volume that we see across the board.  It fluctuates so much," Lewis said.

Mayor McDaniel says the majority of Metropolis' cash flow comes from Harrah's, which means when the casino's revenue falls short, so does the city's and the people who call Metropolis home.

"It's very important to us.  Our employees and things like that and our city government depends on revenue that provides money for their jobs," McDaniel said.

Even so, McDaniel told Local 6 there will be some new economic developments within the city this year.  He expects anywhere from 50-75 new hires from those businesses.'

As for Harrah's, Chad Lewis says there are no plans to change any of the marketing to get more people to the casino.  He and his team are happy where things are.

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