ew figures from the Indiana Gaming Commission indicate the three casinos closest to Cincinnati attracted just under 7 million visitors in 2008, down 9.2 % from 2007. Revenue for the three casinos dipped 7.5 to us$ 732 million.
Grand Victoria Casino in Rising Sun saw the steepest drop, drawing 285,000 fewer patrons in 2008 and enduring an 8.6 % decline in revenue. Argosy Casino in Lawrenceburg saw an 8.4 % drop to us$ 436 million in 2008 revenue. Its turnstiles counted 3.5 million visitors for the year, down 7 %.
Gaming industry analyst Dennis Farrell said Southeast Indiana casinos had more than the weak economy to battle. Two new slots parlors at horse-racing tracks near Indianapolis are keeping day-trippers from traveling south. “They’re losing more share to the ‘racinos’ than any other part of the state,” said Farrell, who follows the gaming industry for Wachovia Capital Markets.
While it isn’t good news, it could be worse, said Ed Feigenbaum, editor of the Indiana Gaming Insight newsletter. Excluding results from the new casinos, Indiana gaming parlors suffered a 13 % revenue dip in 2008. “Illinois was down 20 to 22 % year over year,” he said. “We did pretty well compared to our neighbors.”
Because no one is sure what will happen with the economy this year, Feigenbaum is reluctant to predict when Indiana casinos will recover. But he does see “hope on the horizon” for Southeast Indiana.
“Argosy is opening their expanded property this summer with a totally new gaming platform,” he said. “There’s still the prospect of Belterra adding that third tower they’ve been talking about for a couple of years now. When casinos expand their amenities, they tend to see a bounce in admission and a bounce in revenue as a result.”