Hard Rock Casino attracts big bucks in short month

The Times Of Northwest Indiana
Hard Rock Casino attracts big bucks in short month

Even a shorter than usual month can't stop the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana from extending its dominance of the Region's gaming market.

Data released Friday by the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) show Hard Rock in February was the highest earning casino in the Hoosier State for a fifth consecutive month — once again surpassing the perennial earnings leader, Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, for "win," or revenue after paying successful bettors.

Hard Rock's win from slot machines and table games totaled $31.6 million for the month. That was a 4.7% increase compared to its January win over 31 days and 12.8% more than Horseshoe's February win of $28.7 million, which was up 2.5% compared to January, according to the IGC.

Matt Schuffert, president of Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana, which last year replaced Gary's former Majestic Star casinos, said "despite only having 28 days February produced one of our strongest months since we opened last May."

"This was the first month we led the northern half of the state in both slot volume and slot win, and we continue to grow our table games business, posting our largest table games drop month with only 28 days," he said.

"Although we continue to dominate the baccarat business, we posted very strong growth in many other game types, particularly in blackjack and craps."

Schuffert expects the momentum to continue when the Hard Rock sports book opens in the weeks ahead. In addition, he said Hard Rock is ramping up its live entertainment in March and April, both in the 1,950-seat Hard Rock Live venue, and on Friday and Saturday nights in the "legendary" Hard Rock Café and Council Oaks bar.

According to the IGC, Hard Rock attracted $52.5 million in table game wagers in February compared to $30.2 million at Horseshoe.

Baccarat was the biggest table game at both the Gary and Hammond casinos. But Hard Rock ($29.8 million) nearly tripled Horseshoe ($10.4 million) in baccarat play, and led in baccarat win with $4.1 million for Hard Rock and $1.4 million for Horseshoe.

Hard Rock also led the state in slot machine play for the second time since opening. Its $223.5 million in slot machine coin-in edged Horseshoe, which posted $221.4 million in slot play last month.

On a per machine basis, Hard Rock outpaced Horseshoe by tallying $13,768 in monthly win from each slot machine compared to $11,380 each at Horseshoe, records show.

According to the IGC, Ameristar Casino in East Chicago saw slot machine and table games win of $18.1 million in February, up 11.1% compared to January, while February's win of $10.7 million at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City also was up 11% on a monthly basis.

Statewide casino win for February totaled $201.3 million, a 5.9% increase compared to the $190.1 million in statewide win recorded in January, and up an astounding 48.5% compared to pandemic dampened February 2021, according to the IGC.

At the same time, data show enthusiasm for betting on sports waned a bit in February with Hoosiers risking just $409.1 million on sporting events.

That was a 22.3% drop compared to the state's record sports wagering handle of $500.1 million set in January.

"As big as the Super Bowl is, there is no substitute for five full weekends of football games, as there were in January. For that reason, February is always a slower month than January," said Jake Garza, lead analyst for PlayIndiana.com.

"Still, Indiana’s sports betting industry remains in excellent shape. The largest sports betting holiday in the U.S. — the NCAA Tournament — is just ahead. With Purdue, Notre Dame, and Indiana in the mix, and Indianapolis among the hosts, it would not be surprising to see more records fall in March."

As usual, Ameristar Casino led the state for sports wagering handle in February with $121.5 million, primarily through its DraftKings mobile sports wagering affiliate.

Blue Chip once again ranked second with $107.7 million in sports bets last month thanks in part to its affiliation with FanDuel.

Records show Indiana in February collected $59.5 million in tax revenue from slot machine and table game play, and another $1.6 million from settled sports wagers.