posttrib
LUMINOUS 
Weather Updates

Weather contributes to steep revenue decline at Northwest Indiana casinos

Updated: February 12, 2014 6:12AM



Mother Nature dealt Northwest Indiana’s five casinos a bad hand in December.

The casinos saw their revenues plummet $16.2 million, or 17.6 percent, from the previous December, mostly due to bad weather or the threat of it, casino operators said Friday.

“Weather impacted us three out of four weekends and on New Year’s Eve. We were substantially down over last year,” Dan Nita, senior vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Hammond, said.

It was a disappointing end to what already had been a lackluster year for the local casinos, which saw year-over-year declines in 10 of 12 months.

Every casino in the region saw double-digit drops last month compared to the year before, with Ameristar in East Chicago having the greatest plunge, at 20.9 percent, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission’s monthly revenues report issued Friday.

The casino took in $16.2 million compared to $20.5 million in December 2012.

The five casinos together took in $75.7 million, compared to $91.9 million the previous December.

Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City took in $11.7 million compared to $14.2 million, a 17.6 percent decline; Horseshoe Hammond took in $35.3 million compared to $42.4 million, a 16.7 percent slide; Majestic Star I in Gary raked in $7.1 million compared to $8.1 million, a 12.3 percent dip; and Majestic Star II in Gary brought in $5.5 million compared to $6.7 million, a 17.9 percent drop.

Matt Schuffert, vice president and general manager of Ameristar, said December is typically a slow month.

“With recent inclement weather, our numbers reflect the overall trend in the market,” Schuffert said.

He said many of their guests visited the casino throughout December despite the weather.

The percentages here mirror those in the industry statewide, with Indiana’s combined casinos’ revenues dropping $37 million or about 17.2 percent, setting what could be a historic low for the state, according to Indiana gaming analyst Ed Feigenbaum.

“I believe it’s historic in terms of percentage decline and real dollars decline. You need to go back to 2003-2004 to find when the casinos made under $200 million, and that was before French Lick and the two racinos,” Feigenbaum said.

The state’s casinos pulled in $177.3 million last month.

Feigenbaum said the casinos didn’t have a particularly good New Year’s Eve turnout and had one less weekend day, two factors that could have contributed to the decline.

Nita did have a bright side to this month’s revenue report for Horseshoe.

He said Horseshoe Hammond maintained its No. 1 spot in both the Northwest Indiana and Chicago-area markets. The Hammond casino had 46 percent of the market share in Northwest Indiana in 2013 compared to 45 percent in 2012.

In the Chicago area, it has 22.8 percent market share, compared to 22.2 percent last year.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.