Northwest Indiana‘s casinos are beginning to thaw after experiencing a deep freeze for months, as March saw an increase in their gaming revenue to $90.7 million, a 1.2 percent increase from last March’s $89.6 million.
The small but welcome increase was viewed as “a bit of a rebound” by Dan Nita, general manager and senior vice president of the Horseshoe Casino Hammond, according to The Northwest Indiana Times. Nita said Northwest Indiana’s casino showed year-over-year growth for the first time since November. He said that “The casino floor felt more energy in March,” according to the news agency.
Leading the way were electronic games, which were up 2 percent from the same time last year, with a total win of $71.7 million. However, coming in at a collective $19 million, table games at the area’s casinos were down 1.7 percent.
Michigan City’s Blue Chip Casino experienced the largest year-over-year increase at 3.8 percent to $15 million. While a 2.4 percent increase was seen by Majestic Star’s two Gary boats which brought in $15.3 million. The Horseshoe in Hammond also saw an increase at $39.4 million, a 2 percent rise.
The only area casino to record a down month was East Chicago’s Ameristar, at $21 million, a year-over-year decrease of 2.8 percent.
Admissions at the area’s casinos in March were for the most part even at just over 890,000 in total, a decrease of less than 1 percent from the same time last year.
Last month was only the second time within the 12 month period that saw an increase in gambling revenue. The area’s casinos were down 3.3 percent from 2016’s first quarter at just over $244.5 million for the first quarter of 2017.
The gain in March, however slight, helped to lessen the quarterly downturn. Nita said, “The fact we were able to eat away half of that decline in one month — I’m encouraged by that trend,” according to the report.
Collectively, the state’s 13 gaming facilities won a total of $211.3 million, a 4.4 percent increase from a year ago. The state was paid at total of $66.8 million in wagering and admission taxes by the casinos.
Indiana’s casino industry has suffered over the past decade due to competition from neighboring states, with the state’s 13 casinos bringing in only $600 million in tax revenues last year, a decline of 30 percent since 2007.
In the search for answers, House Bill 1350, authored by Rep. Todd Huston (R-District 37), has been making its way through the Legislature and would do away with an admissions tax of $3 per person that is imposed upon the state’s riverboats, replacing it with a supplemental tax that would be capped at 3.5 percent on the casino’s gross revenues. The bill has already seen a number of amendments and now moves on to the Indiana Senate, where it could see further changes.