The wins keep on coming for the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana.
Data released Wednesday by the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) show Hard Rock in December was the highest earning casino in the Hoosier State for a third consecutive month — once again surpassing the perennial earnings leader, Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, for "win," or revenue after paying successful bettors.
Hard Rock's win from slot machines and table games totaled $32.4 million for the month, a 5.7% increase compared to its November win, and 9.25% more than Horseshoe's December win of $29.7 million, according to the IGC.
Matt Schuffert, president of Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana, which only opened to the public May 14 as a replacement for Gary's former Majestic Star casinos, said he was pleased the new casino "had its strongest month yet in December."
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"Our table games business continues to perform extremely well, led by our strong baccarat business," Schuffert said. "We added over 50 additional slot machines to our floor in December, with nearly 100 more classic games coming soon."
Schuffert also credited the casino's "amazing New Year's Eve celebration" and the "rave reviews on the quality of our food and the service provided by our team members" for keeping Hard Rock on top last month.
According to the IGC, Hard Rock attracted $45.9 million in table game wagers in December compared to $30.5 million at Horseshoe.
Baccarat was the biggest table game at both the Gary and Hammond casinos. But Hard Rock ($26.4 million) more than doubled up Horseshoe ($11.1 million) in baccarat play, and led in baccarat win with $5.8 million for Hard Rock and $1.6 million for Horseshoe.
Hard Rock also pulled ahead of Horseshoe in blackjack play in December with a drop of $8.4 million compared to $7.7 million at Horseshoe.
But Hard Rock blackjack players got luckier at the tables last month, leaving the casino with $1.8 million in blackjack win compared to $1.7 million for Horseshoe.
IGC data show Horseshoe again beat Hard Rock on slot machine play ($226.7 million versus $224.8 million) and win ($22.9 million versus $21.9 million) in December, due in part to Horseshoe having 20% more slot machines than Hard Rock on its gaming floor.
On a per machine basis, Hard Rock outpaced Horseshoe by tallying $13,843 in monthly win from each slot machine compared to $11,627 each at Horseshoe, records show.
Schuffert anticipates Hard Rock will maintain its lead over Horseshoe in the new year by continuing to offer superior entertainment, including upcoming live musical performances by The Jacksons, Papa Roach and Clint Black.
According to the IGC, Ameristar Casino in East Chicago saw slot machine and table games win of $18.9 million in December, up 6.9% compared to November, while December win of $11.7 million at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City was down 8.1% on a monthly basis.
Data show Hoosiers also enthusiastically continued betting on sports in December with Indiana falling just short of a fourth consecutive monthly record for sports wagering handle.
According to the IGC, Hoosiers bet $463 million on sporting events last month. That was nearly equal to the all-time monthly high of $463.7 million set in November.
Football and basketball together accounted for nearly 60% of December sports wagers, followed by multi-sport and multi-game parlay wagers, records show.
Altogether, Indiana's sports books handled $3.8 billion in wagers last year, more than double Indiana's 2020 sports wagering handle of $1.8 billion.
"2021 should be remembered as the year in which people fully embraced online sports betting, especially after a tumultuous 2020," said Eric Ramsey, an analyst for PlayIndiana.com. "As impressive as the year was, though, the market is not done growing."
"Sportsbooks are still reaching new customers and operators are offering increasingly innovative products. Meanwhile, Hoosiers are becoming more comfortable with sports betting in general, and more open to less conventional forms of wagering such as in-game betting."
As usual, Ameristar Casino led the state for sports wagering handle in December with $155.4 million, primarily through its DraftKings mobile sports wagering affiliate.
Blue Chip once again ranked second with $121.1 million in sports bets last month thanks in part to its affiliation with FanDuel.
Records show Indiana in December collected $58 million in tax revenue from slot machine and table game play, and another $2.5 million from settled sports wagers.