Northwest Indiana's casinos felt the first wave of competition from the new Four Winds South Bend in January, but weathered it well with a drop in gambling win of just 1.6 percent as compared to a year ago.
The Region's casinos brought in $73.8 million at their slot machines and table games in January, with slot play down more than 7 percent. The $569.2 million played brought a return of $54.7 million to the casinos, as compared to a $58.9 million win in January 2017.
Table games made up for much of the drop in slot play, with table play volume up more than 7 percent, and win up 18.9 percent to $19.1 million. The casinos were led by Ameristar East Chicago's 62.1 percent win increase, to $5.5 million.
The revenue numbers were released Thursday by the Indiana Gaming Commission.
"We definitely had a very solid month," Ameristar General Manager Matt Schuffert said. He said the casino was "on the right side of some wagers" at its table games, but that play volume was also up significantly.
Horseshoe and Blue Chip also saw higher table game play and revenue.
"The table business has been pretty robust," Horseshoe General Manager Dan Nita said.
And, Nita said January's overall performance was in line with the casino's projections, which suggested a year-over-year revenue drop of about 2 percent, because this January had fewer weekend days than last January.
Chicago area casinos on the Illinois side of the state line saw a 3.5 percent year-over-year decline in January, Nita said.
Casinos and race tracks in Indiana brought in $168.6 million in gaming revenue in January, down 2.4 percent from a year ago, according to the gaming commission.
Admissions were down 11.6 percent in Northwest Indiana as compared to a year ago, to 684,344. Admissions across the state were down nearly 19 percent.
While Northwest Indiana's performance met expectations and was comparable to casinos in other areas, Four Winds' impact could be seen in the level of slot play, both collectively and individually, particularly closer South Bend. The westernmost casino, Horseshoe, saw play down by less than 6 percent, while the easternmost casino, Blue Chip, was down 11 percent.
Nita noted that Four Winds was only open half of January. "You'll see the full impact this month," he said.
Casinos are responding in part by upgrading their slot offerings. Horseshoe is bringing in hundreds of new games during the first quarter of the year, Nita said.