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Casino revenues rise in March

Entrance Majestic Star casinos BuffingtHarbor. | Archive~Sun-Times Media

Entrance to Majestic Star casinos in Buffington Harbor. | Archive~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 11, 2013 6:13AM



After months of declining year-over-year revenues, Northwest Indiana’s five casinos collectively showed a slight increase in March.

Revenues for March totaled $104.7 million, a 2.3 percent increase from the $104.3 million recorded in March 2012, according to the monthly casino revenue report released Tuesday by the Indiana Gaming Commission.

Horseshoe Hammond showed the only increase, taking in $47.7 million last month compared to $46.2 million the previous March. Ameristar East Chicago held steady at $22.8 million each March while Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City and Majestic Star Casinos in Gary dropped slightly.

Blue Chip took in $15.7 million compared to $16 million last March, while Majestic Star raked in $18.5 million from its two casinos last month compared to $19.3 million the previous March.

Dan Nita, senior vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Hammond, said the overall Chicago market, including Northwest Indiana, grew by 2.6 percent in March.

“At Horseshoe, we’re encouraged that the month showed growth in both slots and table games,” Nita said.

He said February started slow, but picked up toward the end of the month with the growth trend continuing through March.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about April,” Nita said.

Indianapolis-based gaming analyst Ed Feigenbaum said Northwest Indiana casino operators should be happy with their flat numbers, as revenues of casinos in southern Indiana plummeted when a new casino opened in Cincinnati.

He said revenues at one casino were down 40 percent.

The casino report came out one day after Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Ernest Yelton told those attending the Gary Chamber of Commerce that he believes land-based casinos will be a reality throughout the state in the future. Yelton also said casinos could get a tax deduction on up to $3 million in promotional free play per year under Senate Bill 528, if the bill is passed under its current wording.

Nita said $3 million is a very small amount for casino operators and he’d like to see a 100 percent deduction on free play like other states offer.

“The state wants to see how the deduction plays out,” Nita said.

Nita said Yelton was describing the evolution of the industry when he talked about land-based casinos.

“Boats have a finite lifespan and at some point owners will need to decide whether they will invest in a new vessel,” Nita said.

He didn’t know the typical lifespan for a casino boat.



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