Isle earns $3.1 million in first quarter; Bettendorf gambling boat battered by construction, Illinois slots

The first quarter financial results of Isle of Capri Casino, Inc. drew praise from stock analysts Wednesday (9/2), but its Bettendorf riverboat was noteworthy for just the opposite – falling revenues.

The Isle earned $3.1 million for the first quarter, or 8 cents per share, a turnaround from last year when the gambling firm lost 6 cents per share, or $2.3 million. The St. Louis-based firm also reported a significant increase in net revenues for the period, jumping nearly 5 percent to $260 million, compared to $249.5 million during the same period a year ago.

In a conference call with analysts, Isle officials said the higher revenues were the result of the improving economy and more focused marketing to its most profitable gamblers.

Only two of the Isle properties – the Isle of Capri Casino in Bettendorf and the Lake Charles, Louisiana casino – saw revenue drop in the first quarter. Lake Charles, facing competition from a new casino, saw its revenues decline $700,000 compared to the same period a year ago.

The Bettendorf gambling boat saw revenues decline nearly 8 percent to $18 million in the quarter, compared to $19.5 million in net revenue a year ago.

Isle officials cited the large increase in slot machines now legal in nearby Illinois counties, and competition from the Davenport Rhythm City Casino, which was closed for two weeks during the first quarter a year ago.

Construction work during renovation of the Isle's South Tower Hotel and the street work in downtown Bettendorf related to the new I-74 bridge also caused disruption to the casino operation, Isle officials said.

Asked if the improved economy meant the company would look at less promotional spending to attract gamblers, President and CEO Virginia McDowell said the Isle "hasn't taken our foot off the gas" in its promotional efforts.

"We're being much more discerning on the customers who we are talking to," she said. "We're making better sense of our (promotional) spend," McDowell said.

The Isle is in the midst of building a new land-based casino between its two hotels on the Bettendorf riverfront. The project, estimated at $60 million by Isle officials, is scheduled to open by the summer of 2016 to replace the floating riverboat casino docked on the Mississippi Riverfront.

CLICK HERE to download the Isle's first quarter financial report.

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