Majestic Star leads pack in December revenue increase
Majestic Star Casino led the way among Northwest Indiana gaming boats with a 22.6 percent increase in December revenues, with its two Gary boats taking in a total of almost $16.6 million.
Overall casino revenues in December were up 3.2 percent at the five region boats as compared to December 2009, with Horseshoe Casino in Hammond raking in the top take of $41.2 million, according to the monthly revenue report from the Indiana Gaming Commission.
Northwest Indiana boats facing the recession’s howling gales maintained an even keel for the year, with total 2010 revenues of almost $1.2 billion, up just 0.06 percent from the year before, according to a Times tally of the year’s revenue reports. That occurred at the same time gambling revenues were tumbling in a number of jurisdictions, including Illinois.
“We all market hard enough where we draw Illinois customers across the border,” Majestic Star General Manager Larry Buck said. “It’s been a great year for Northwest Indiana.”
Horseshoe General Manger Dan Nita attributed the healthy gambling scene in Northwest Indiana to a number of factors, including the tax differential between the two states. But the No. 1 reason appears to be heavy investing to improve and expand both gaming and other facilities at the region’s boats, Nita said.
That includes Horseshoe’s $500 million gaming boat and Venue theater, which opened two years ago; Blue Chip Casino’s 300-room hotel tower in Michigan City; and upgrades at Majestic Star in Gary and Ameristar Casino in East Chicago.
In December, four out of the five Northwest Indiana boats saw increased revenues as compared to a year ago. At Ameristar, revenues dropped 11.5 percent. Blue Chip Casino notched a 1.1 percent increase.
Horseshoe’s revenue increase came despite total admissions dropping 4.5 percent from a year ago. Majestic Star’s increase on the other hand was powered by a 25.6 percent increase in admissions.
The December revenue figures at Ameristar and Majestic Star both compare to December 2009, when the Cline Avenue bridge was first closed for a full month. It was condemned permanently at the end of that month. The bridge served as one of the main gateways to both casinos.
In the case of Majestic Star, Buck said an aggressive advertising campaign emphasizing its improved gaming floors and directions on how to get to the casino helped it notch revenue gains in 11 out of 12 months last year. Recently, a new ramp opened to the casino off of Cline Avenue.
“We have improved our facilities and improved our marketing,” Buck said. “Pretty soon, the bridge closure will become irrelevant.”
Casinos end year on cheery, holiday note
Revenues at Northwest Indiana casinos increased 3.2 percent overall in December as compared to December 2009.
Total December revenue followed by change from December 2009:
• Ameristar: $19.27 million, down 11.5 percent
• Blue Chip: $13.02 million, up 1.1 percent
• Horseshoe: $41.21 million, up 5.4 percent
• Majestic Star I: $8.73 million, up 21.6 percent
• Majestic Star II: $7.83 million, up 23.8 percent
Total: $90.06 million, up 3.2 percent