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Hard Rock edges Horseshoe for top earning casino in Northwest Indiana

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Hard Rock Casino exterior

Measuring 37 feet tall by 15 feet, 7.5 inches wide, the guitar marquee sign at the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana was designed to replicate Joseph Jackson’s original guitar from 1965. Joseph Jackson is the father and founder of the Jackson 5, the musical group that went from humble beginnings, in Gary, to become international superstars.

Casino patrons in Northwest Indiana are singing a new song when it comes to the Region's most popular gaming destination.

Data released Friday by the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) show the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana in October attracted more play and earned more "win," or revenue after paying successful bettors, than the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.

It's the first time in more than a decade Horseshoe ranked anywhere other than first place in the Northwest Indiana casino market, and Horseshoe lost its top spot after just five full months of competition with Hard Rock.

Matt Schuffert, president of Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana, said after the monthly Indiana casino revenue report was issued: "We couldn't be happier with our results thus far."

"Being the top revenue producer in the state in such a short time is truly testament to the our team, our property and the Hard Rock brand," Schuffert said.

"The experience and vibe of this property is exciting and energetic, and we hear that continuously from our guests."

Hard Rock Casino President Matt Schuffert gives Times Reporter Dan Carden a guided tour of the new Hard Rock Northern Indiana a week before opening.

According to the IGC, Hard Rock attracted $44.2 million in table game wagers in October compared to $32.9 million at Horseshoe.

Baccarat was the big table game at both the Gary and Hammond casinos. But Hard Rock ($24.1 million) nearly doubled up Horseshoe ($12.6 million) in baccarat play, as well as baccarat win with $4.8 million for Hard Rock and $2.4 million for Horseshoe.

The two casinos saw nearly equal blackjack play of around $8 million each. But Horseshoe players got luckier at the blackjack tables last month, leaving the casino with just $695,000 in blackjack win compared to $2 million for Hard Rock.

IGC data show Horseshoe actually beat Hard Rock on slot machine play ($243.8 million versus $234.5 million) and win ($24.8 million versus $22.7 million) in October, due in part to Horseshoe having 34% more slot machines than Hard Rock on its gaming floor.

But on a per machine basis, Hard Rock beat Horseshoe by tallying $15,268 in monthly win from each slot machine compared to $12,451 each at Horseshoe.

"We are very excited to see our business levels continue to grow, particularly on the slot side of the business," Schuffert said. "We continue to add new slot product to our floor, and will continue to add throughout the end of 2021, with over 150 more games on the way."

Schuffert expects Hard Rock also will maintain its lead over Horseshoe by offering superior entertainment, including more frequent performances at the 1,950-seat Hard Rock Live that opened this month with a show by Chicago rockers Disturbed.

"Entertainment continues to be a driver of strong visitation Hard Rock Northern Indiana," Schuffert said. "We have live entertainment every Friday and Saturday on our Hard Rock Café stage, and our first concert in Hard Rock Live ... was a sellout and a huge success."

"We look forward to launching our 2022 entertainment schedule soon."

Hard Rock topping Horseshoe wasn't the only shocker in the IGC's October revenue report — Indiana also destroyed its monthly sports wagering record.

According to the IGC, Hoosiers bet an incredible $461.1 million on sporting events last month, a 29.7% increase compared to the prior record of $355.4 million just set in September.

College and professional football accounted for approximately 40% of October sports wagers, followed by multi-sport and multi-game parlay wagers, basketball and baseball, records show.

This episode of the "Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops" series takes viewers behind the armored vehicles and shields to see what it's like to be a part of the Lake County Sheriff's SWAT team.

Besides Indiana, only New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Illinois ever have taken in more than $450 million in sports wagers in a single month.

"No state has capitalized on its potential as a sports betting market better than Indiana," said Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayIndiana.com.

"As impressive as some of these records have been, it is also important to remember that Indiana as a market still hasn’t fully matured."

As usual, Ameristar Casino in East Chicago led the state for sports wagering handle in October with $160.7 million, primarily through its DraftKings mobile sports wagering affiliate.

Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City once again ranked second with $114.7 million in sports bets last month thanks in part to its affiliation with FanDuel.

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