The total take at the five Northwest Indiana casinos fared slightly better in March 2013 than in the year-ago-month, according to revenue figures released Tuesday by the Indiana Gaming Commission.
Only Hammond’s Horseshoe Casino beat the year-to-year figures, gaining $1.8 million over March 2012. Ameristar in East Chicago, Blue Chip in Michigan City and Majestic Star I in Gary came close. Those casinos saw declines of $200,000, $400,000 and $200,000 respectively, in year-to-year comparisons.
Gary’s Majestic Star II posted the most losses from March 2012 to March 2013: $600,000.
Northwest Indiana casino revenue totals are approaching the 2012 figures – exactly the reverse of what the rest of Indiana’s riverboats are experiencing, said Ed Feigenbaum, the publisher of Indianapolis-based Indiana Gaming Insight newsletter.
“This is the seventh straight month of declines and the largest month-to-month decline than before the recession. It’s the second longest-streak of declines (in Indiana gaming history) and we may tie it in April,” said Feigenbaum.
Casino admissions also are down statewide in the double digits, representing 240,000 fewer people visiting riverboats, he said.
“Admission is flat in Northwest Indiana, which is good compared with the rest of the state,” Feigenbaum said.
One problem is increased competition especially in Southeast Indiana from the new Cincinnati riverboat, Feigenbaum said. However, there may also be additional economic issues affecting casino revenues, including less discretionary cash or money needed for necessities such as food and gas, he said
Horseshoe Casino saw an uptick in both slots and table game play during March, according to Dan Nita, senior vice president and general manager. The upswing that began in the last two weeks of February carried over into March and now into April, Nita said.
“April is a bigger time for us because we renew our annual customer status and thank them for their loyalty,” he said.
The penny slots were once the province of casual gamers with an interest in not spending much money and getting the most entertainment for their dollars. Now, Nita said, the penny slots are attracting the VIP guests who have the Diamond or 7-Star guest status.
“These games have more bonus features,” he said. “Actually the bets at the penny slots are higher than at the $1 machines.”