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Majestic Star Casino

Majestic Star Casino in Gary is pictured.

John J. Watkins, The Times

Northwest Indiana's casinos took in $84.7 million at their table games and slot machines in April, a 4.9 percent increase from a year ago and the biggest year-over-year growth since June.

The performance varied across the market, according to figures released Thursday by the Indiana Gaming Commission. East Chicago's Ameristar recorded an unusually large 17.9 percent increase in gaming "win," to $21.4 million.

Ameristar Vice President and General Manager Matt Schuffert described it as "nice growth on both sides of the business."

"Both slots and tables saw nice growth," he said. Schuffert said the casino was "a little luckier" on table games this year, but noted 20 percent growth in overall table game play as the primary factor.

The other Lake County casinos saw more modest increases. Horseshoe, in Hammond, had a 2.8 percent increase to $36.1 million, and Gary's Majestic Star climbed 1.3 percent to $14.2 million. 

Michigan City's Blue Chip, the closest Region casino to the new Four Winds South Bend, dropped 3.6 percent, to $13 million.

For the year-to-date, collective revenue in Northwest Indiana is nearly even with the first four months of last year. This year's $322.8 million is down less than $3 million from the first third of 2017.

Statewide, gambling revenue was up 2.2 percent to $195.3 million, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission.

April's revenue growth in Northwest Indiana came from fewer gamblers — patron admissions were down 4.5 percent, to 763,155.

"Folks are either spending a little more time or a little more money while they're on the property," Horseshoe Vice President and Assistant General Manager Noah Hirsch said. He said Horseshoe has concentrated on offering up-to-date games on the table and slot sides.

"There's good demand for the nearly 400 new slot machines we've put in over the last few months," he said. "We're always working with vendors and the state to get the newest popular games approved."

Casinos have also focused on customer service and enhanced marketing efforts to help stabilize revenue.

"We're starting to reap the benefits of that," Ameristar's Schuffert said.

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Transportation reporter

Andrew covers transportation, real estate, casinos and other topics for The Times business section. A Crown Point native, he joined The Times in 2014, and has more than 15 years experience as a reporter and editor at Region newspapers.