Indiana's riverboat casino revenues fell 4.4 percent in March, dragged down by declines at two southeastern Indiana venues that faced their first month of head-to-head competition with a Cincinnati casino, according to figures released Tuesday by the Indiana Gaming Commission.
Revenue at Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, the state's second largest, fell 25 percent compared to the same month last year, and revenue at the Rising Star Casino in Rising Sun fell 23 percent, the figures showed.
The Hollywood decline amounted to $9.8 million, and Rising Star's revenues fell about $2 million, The Indianapolis Star reported.
In Ohio, the new $400 million Horseshoe Cincinnati casino opened March 4 and raked in $21 million during March, the Ohio Casino Control Commission reported Monday.
Steve Jimenez, general manager at Rising Star, attributed most of the decline at his operation to Horseshoe.
"Obviously when a casino opens, everyone goes and checks it out," he said. "Eventually they go back to the places they like to go to, but some don't."
Indiana lawmakers have a stake in the riverboats' fortunes because casino taxes account for the third largest source of revenue for state government, and they're trying to agree on legislation that would help Indiana casinos become more competitive.
A bill approved Tuesday by the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee would remove a tax on free-play coupons that casinos use to lure visitors. Ohio does not tax free play. The casino industry also wants to allow riverboat casinos to move ashore and to allow live table games at the state's two horse track-casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville. The racinos now have only slot and video machines.
Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown said the bill likely will undergo changes when the House and Senate iron out the differences in their separate versions of the bill.