Dramatic dip in casino revenues 'a concern’

2012-11-08T14:21:00Z 2012-11-08T15:14:04Z Dramatic dip in casino revenues 'a concern’Lu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 08, 2012 2:21 pm  • 

All five Northwest Indiana casinos saw revenues drop in October compared with a year ago, according to revenue figures from the Indiana Gaming Commission released Thursday.

It’s a trend that is affecting all Indiana casinos, according to Indiana Gaming Insight Editor Ed Feigenbaum, who is based in Indianapolis.

“In October, we’re seeing an overall statewide decline in revenues to $205 million, the large percentage decline and real dollar decline we’ve experienced. It’s our lowest revenues since January 2008,” Feigenbaum said, calling the trend “distressing” and “a matter of concern.”

Overall, Northwest Indiana casinos raked in nearly $86.8 million, a drop of $2.5 million year-to-year.

One of the factors impacting revenues was a decline in number of people gambling during October, Feigenbaum said. The Northwest Indiana casinos had total admissions of 941,600 in October 2012 compared with 1,037,839 a year ago. That’s a 9.3 percent decline.

Even Hammond’s Horseshoe Casino, the state’s largest casino and biggest money-maker, saw a 0.5 percent dip revenues and a head count drop of 68,601 guests from October 2011.

That outcome at Horseshoe occurred despite a World Series of Poker tournament that brought in 12,000 players, said Dan Nita, senior vice president and general manager of the Hammond riverboat.

Nita said several factors played into that attendance drop that also affected revenue streams. One of those is the lack of an extra weekend this October. In 2011, there were five Saturdays and Sundays.

The slow economic recovery is also impacting all casinos in Indiana and Illinois, Nita said.

“Overall the Chicago market is down 2.9 percent. The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin is down 15 percent,” he said. “Until the economy recovers, I don’t think we’ll see much change.”

On Monday, Majestic Star Casino & Hotel announced the layoff of nearly 80 people at the Gary facility as a result of economic conditions and organizational structure.

Nita said the Majestic Star layoffs “came as a surprise."

Horseshoe Casino Hammond has no layoffs planned and, in fact, has 40 job openings, he said.

“Our recruiting team is very busy,” Nita said. “We’re looking for talented individuals displaced from competitors.”

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