Thursday, October 28, 2004

Argosy buying Ohio venues

By Ken Alltucker
Enquirer staff writer

While state lawmakers debate the prospect of legalizing gambling in Ohio, Argosy Gaming Co. already is staking its turf in the Buckeye State.

Illinois-based Argosy said Wednesday that it has signed a deal to buy Toledo'sRaceway Park and a Sandusky wagering facility for about $20 million.

"The interest here is to give us a little bit of an insurance policy for what might happen in Ohio," Argosy chief executive Richard Glasier said.

Ohio gamblers have been a vital source of cash for the riverboat casino operator. Primarily drawing gamblers from Greater Cincinnati and Dayton, Argosy's riverboat casino in Lawrenceburg accounted for 43 percent of the company's third-quarter revenue of $266.5 million.

Argosy wants to shore up its Greater Cincinnati position with a Lawrenceburg expansion expected to include new gambling space, hotel rooms and more parking.

The Raceway Park deal was concocted with an eye toward legalized gambling in Ohio, which Glaser conceded is "not in the near future in all likelihood, but years from now."

The company Wednesday reported a solid third-quarter profit increase. Argosy recorded third-quarter profit of $21.1 million, or 71 cents per diluted share, compared to $16.5 million, or 56 cents per diluted share, the year before.

Argosy's Lawrenceburg riverboat casino collected $115.4 million in casino revenue during the third quarter, a 7.9 percent increase. Argosy shares closed at $42.32, down 28 cents.


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