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Indiana casinos rebound in April despite continuing COVID-19 restrictions

Indiana casinos rebound in April despite continuing COVID-19 restrictions

Hard Rock Casino President Matt Schuffert gves guided tour

Slot machines await gamblers at the Hard Rock Casino in Gary. The new casino, located adjacent to eastbound Interstate 80-94 at the Burr Street exit, opens at 5 p.m. Friday.

Indiana's casino industry appears to be on the rebound despite COVID-19 prevention measures that continue to limit seating at slot machines and table games, and prevent casinos from hosting many live entertainment events.

Data released Wednesday by the Indiana Gaming Commission show Indiana casinos in April collectively generated $211.7 million in "win," or revenue after paying successful bettors.

That obviously was superior to last year's April win total since all Indiana casinos were completely shut down from March 16 to June 15, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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.

Going further back, data show last month's Indiana casino win was a 16% increase compared to April 2019, when there were no COVID-19 restrictions.

It also managed to grow last month despite Gary's Majestic Star Casinos permanently closing April 18 to transition employees and equipment to the new Hard Rock Casino that opens at 5 p.m. Friday adjacent to eastbound Interstate 80/94 at the Burr Street exit.

As usual, the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond led the state with $38.2 million in win. It was followed in Northwest Indiana by the Ameristar Casino in East Chicago ($27.7 million), Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City ($13.2 million), and Majestic Star ($6.9 million).

Data show the April 17 reopening of the Horseshoe's popular poker room, in temporary quarters at the Venue performance space, helped push the Hammond casino's win ahead of its East Chicago rival.

Looking ahead, it likely will take until at least July to get a full picture of how the Hard Rock Casino is impacting the Region's other gaming destinations, since the Hard Rock only will be open for half of May and is likely to initially draw significant player interest as both a brand new facility and the first land-based casino in the state.

At the same time, while casino win in April grew year over year, and increased compared to the $209 million in March 2021 win, the amount of money wagered in Indiana on sporting events fell 25% to $236.4 million in April versus $316.7 million in March.

Ride along with LaPorte Police Specialist Justin Dyer as he patrols the streets of LaPorte.

Experts attributed the decline to the impossible-to-replicate NCAA men's basketball tournament being held entirely in Indiana in March, along with the usual slowdown that follows the end of football season.

"Because the pandemic turned the 2020 sports schedule on its head, Indiana hasn’t really experienced a full year of normal sports betting activity," said Jessica Welman, lead analyst at

"But there are normal seasonal ebbs and flows in sports betting, and this is the start of what is historically the slowest period of every year."

PlayIndiana anticipates the NBA playoffs beginning this month, and the Summer Olympics set to start July 23 in Japan, will boost Indiana's sports wagering handle in the weeks and months ahead.

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