Revenues fall with the snow at Northwest Indiana casinos
By KAREN CAFFARINI Post-Tribune correspondent February 10, 2014 4:40PM
Cards are splayed on a table at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond. | Archive~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 10, 2014 7:10PM
Revenues at Northwest Indiana’s five casinos fell along with the snow and temperatures last month.
Total revenues from the five casinos fell 17 percent from the previous January, plunging from $79 million to $65.5 million, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission monthly revenue report released Monday.
While casino insiders didn’t know if this set a record locally, Indiana gaming analyst Ed Feigenbaum said Monday this was the worst month for revenues state-wide since January 2002.
“And we had fewer casinos and no racinos back then,” Feigenbaum said.
Dan Nita, senior vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Hammond, said January’s results were not surprising, given the region had more than 60 inches of snow this year compared to just 8 inches last year, and that eight of the last 11 weekends had some sort of snow.
“That obviously hurt. Plus, when it stopped snowing, we had subzero weather,” Nita said, adding the weather affected gaming in both Indiana and Illinois.
He said the Hammond casino closed briefly last month for only the third time since it opened, this time for the safety of its employees and guests. Nita said the casino also closed during the blizzard of 2011 and after 9/11.
February already is off to a shaky start, with snow falling the first weekend.
Ameristar in East Chicago pulled in $14.9 million last month compared to $18.3 million the previous January, Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City took in $9.3 million compared $11.9 million, Horseshoe Hammond raked in $30 million compared to $35.5 million and the two Majestic Star Casinos in Gary took in $11.3 million compared to $14.3 million.
Nita said he’s trying to reach out to a Chicago weather person to do a report at the Hammond casino.
“When they say there’ll be one inch of snow in Chicago and 5 inches in Indiana, they could be talking about LaPorte or Michigan City. Our snowfall is much more consistent with the western or southern Loop,” Nita said.
Nita also said he is in discussion with Northern Indiana Public Service Co. and other utilities about the possibility of giving away gas gift cards as rewards to guests.
He said worries about utility bills could be keeping people away from the casinos.