Northwest Indiana Casinos Continue to Suffer Amid COVID-19 Restrictions

The year-on-year revenue at Northwest Indiana’s five casinos continued to slide in November despite casinos in neighboring Illinois shutting down mid-month to combat the spread of the virus.

According to a report by the Indiana Gaming Commission, casinos in the state posted $64.53 million in November, a decline of 12.6% from $73.87 million posted during November 2019. All five casinos recorded a steady drop in revenue, and the figures ranged from 4.6% at Horseshoe Hammond to 34.6% at Michigan’s Blue Chip Casino.

The year-on-year revenue at Majestic Star I declined by 14.6%, while Majestic II posted a 22% drop. Ameristar in East Chicago faired a little better with an 8.5% slide. Steve Cox, the Vice President of Finance at Horseshoe Hammond, said the region-wide revenue during November was uniform throughout the state, and the figures dropped by an average of 13.1% compared to October 2020.

Cox said he has no clue whether the November 19 order issued by the Illinois government had any significant effect on Indiana’s gambling industry. “We haven’t conducted a survey on where our patrons come from”, Cox commented on the topic.

Shannon McKeller, Hammond’s Vice President for Marketing, said the casino shut its bus service to and from various locations in Chicago in the wake of the pandemic back in March, and the service is yet to resume.

What the Numbers Look Like

According to IGC’s report, Blue Chip raked in $8.32 million in November 2020 compared to $12.72 million in November 2019. Ameristar posted $16.5 million compared to $18.03 million last year. Horseshoe Hammond generated $30.56 million compared to $32.03 million in the previous year. At the same time, Majestic Star I and II generated $5.81 million and $3.34 million, respectively, compared to $6.08 million and $4.29 million in November 2019.

Cox further claimed retail business at the Horseshoe Hammond suffered from The Venue shutting down earlier this year. “The Venue accommodates close to 2,500 people. It’s hard not to see those people come in here”, Cox added.

Looking ahead, McKeller is confident of the market improving in the wake of the holiday season, even though celebrations are projected to be a low-key affair. The silver lining is sportsbooks in Northwest Indiana posted a 4.4% increase in revenue as mobile operators went online. Cox stated, “a large portion of punters have a smartphone and prefer placing online wagers”.

Tribal Council Delays Indiana Casino Decision

In related news, the Tribal Council voted 10-1 to arrive at a resolution allowing the tribes to carry on with a $290 million acquisition of Caesar’s casino in Southern Indiana. The property is up for sale following the July merger between Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts.

The merger laid the foundation for the nation’s largest entertainment business and casino, which unfortunately put the entity afoul of antitrust laws in certain states. Thus, prompting the management to put up a few properties for sale in select markets. The Tribal Council plans to address the public in the next few weeks before arriving at a conclusion.

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