January's sub-zero temperatures and snow storms iced the gaming market in Northwest Indiana, with revenues overall at the five gaming boats dropping 17 percent to open the year, according to the January revenue report from the Indiana Gaming Commission.
The five boats raked in $65.5 million in total revenues in January, as compared to $78.9 million in January of 2013, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission.
"Across the Illinois and Indiana casinos in the Chicago region, you can see results were very much impacted by this non-stop inclement weather," said Dan Nita, general manager at Horseshoe Casino.
Nita pointed out there have been 60 inches of snow this year in comparison to just 8 inches at this time last year. And when it wasn't snowing temperatures were plunging to below zero.
Overall, January was the worst month for Indiana casinos since December 2002, according to Indiana Gaming Insight Editor Ed Feigenbaum. He also pointed out since 2002, gambling opportunities in the state have increased significantly, most notably with the addition of racinos.
An examination of the last month's weather patterns appears to show the casinos that were in locations that took the biggest beatings from the weather also had the greatest fall-off in their gaming fortunes.
At Blue Chip Casino, in Michigan City, revenues plunged 21.2 percent in January as compared to January 2013. The Indiana-Michigan border was subject to some of the worst weather, including the sudden blizzard that led to the disastrous pileup on Interstate 94 there on Jan. 23.
At Majestic Star, in Gary, revenues at the two gaming boats plunged 20.7 percent as compared to January of last year.
Nita noted Horseshoe closed for only the third time in its history, when it closed for almost 48 hours in early January out of concern for patrons and employees. If they had made their way there, they would have been braving emergency closures of some of the region's main traffic arteries.
Horseshoe revenues were $30 million in January, as compared to $34.6 million in January 2013, for a 13.2 percent drop, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission.
Revenues at Ameristar casino, in East Chicago, were down 18.3 percent in January as compared to the year-ago month.