Hammond casino bucks sinking-revenue trend-WEB ONLY

The Horseshoe Casino in Hammond has been raking in record revenue for an Indiana casino, even as business is down at most of the state’s 10 other full casinos.

State records show the casino had gambling revenue of $49.2 million in April, down slightly from March but a big jump from its $40.5 million in April 2008.

The Hammond casino opened a new $485 million gambling barge last summer and might also be getting a boost from a March fire that closed the Empress Casino in Joliet, Ill.

“Horseshoe has so many more amenities to offer people, making them one of the bigger players in the Chicago [area] market,” said Ed Feigenbaum, editor of the Indiana Gaming Insight newsletter. “No doubt the expansion had an impact.”

Business, however, is down at most of the state’s full-scale casinos from a year ago – a time during which the recession has worsened and slot-machine casinos opened at the two central Indiana pari-mutuel race tracks.

The opening of the two new gambling sites have meant a 7-percent increase in total state casino tax collections so far in the state’s 2008-09 fiscal year, to $706.6 million.

Besides the Horseshoe, Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City is the only full-scale casino to see a significant increase in business in recent months.

Since opening a new 22-story, glass-walled hotel in January, Blue Chip has drawn more gamblers as it tries to reverse a big drop in business it saw after the 2007 opening of an Indian casino about 10 miles away in New Buffalo, Mich.

Blue Chip’s admissions for the year through April have grown about 25 percent from the same time in 2008, but its gambling revenue has increased at a slower rate.

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