NWI casinos’ revenues rise 4 percent in November
Northwest Indiana casinos looking over their shoulders at possible new competition from Illinois notched a more than 4 percent increase in revenues in November, the monthly revenue report from the Indiana Gaming Commission shows.
The five Northwest Indiana boats raked in $93.7 million in total revenue in November, with four out of five boats reporting increased takes as compared to November 2009.
The growth in revenue was encouraging because it took place at most boats and in all segments of gaming, Horseshoe General Manager Dan Nita said.
It was the sixth straight month overall gaming revenues have grown in Northwest Indiana on a year-to-year basis.
Horseshoe walked away with total revenue of $43.7 million in November, a 6.7 percent increase over the year-ago month.
Ameristar Casino in East Chicago notched its first monthly year-to-year revenue gain in November, with the boat raking in almost $20 million in total revenue, a 0.4 percent increase as compared to November 2009. The casino experienced a drastic decline in revenue after the Cline Avenue Bridge was closed in November 2009 and then later condemned by the state.
Ameristar continues to see positive impact from a new arrangement of its slot floor that gives guests the games they want and makes it easier to find them, according to Ameristar spokesman Reginald Dotson.
“We have gone retail and have revolutionized our slot floor by giving guests exactly what they want to play,” Dotson said.
Majestic Star Casinos in Gary also saw strong revenue growth, with the two boats in Gary experiencing an increase in overall revenue by 6.9 percent in November.
Nita said despite all the talk of expanding gambling in Illinois, Horseshoe remains focused on serving customers and increasing its market share. The casino wants to build on its reputation for high-stakes gambling while at the same time attracting those who might just be casual gamblers or out for a night of nongambling-related entertainment, he said.
“Casinos usually have different business segments and customer segments they attract,” Nita said. “In our case we have a strong attraction for local customers. . . . But we do have customers who make their way across many states to play at our facility.”
Without knowing what kind of gaming facilities might be built in Chicago or the south suburbs, Nita said there is no way to know how the opening of those gambling establishments might affect business at the Northwest Indiana boats.
A bill passed by the Illinois Senate last week would add five state-regulated casinos, expand existing ones by two-thirds and give horse racing tracks slot machines. It is estimated the expansion would generate $1 billion per year in tax revenue for the state. It still would have to be approved by the House and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn to become law.
The most direct competitors for Northwest Indiana’s casinos would be proposed Illinois casinos in Chicago and Ford Heights.
NWI casinos notch gain in November
Revenues at Northwest Indiana casinos increased 4 percent overall in November as compared to November 2009.
Revenue change in November compared to a year ago:
• Ameristar, $20 million, up 0.4 percent
• Blue Chip, $13.5 million, down 2.1 percent
• Horseshoe, $43.7 million, up 6.7 percent
• Majestic Star I, $8.6 million, up 3.7 percent
• Majestic Star II, $7.9 million, up 10.7 percent
Total: $93.7 million
Empress boat sales away
The first gaming boat to grace the shores of Northwest Indiana is now on Lake Huron en route to Asia.
Hammond’s Empress Casino boat, replaced in August 2008 by a new $500 million Horseshoe gaming pavilion, shipped out this week after being sold to an Indian gaming company, Horseshoe General Manager Dan Nita said.
The $43 million Empress gaming boat was the first legal casino in Northwest Indiana and sailed into the Hammond Marina in June 1996, with 1,200 slot machines and 50 gaming tables already installed.