The unseasonably warm weather that delighted Northwest Indiana residents in March may have been a little too nice for its five casinos, whose combined revenues dropped 5 percent from March 2011.

“Casinos are about discretionary income and people had a lot more things to be discretionary about in March,” Dan Nita, senior vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Hammond Casino, said Tuesday.

Matthew Schuffert, vice president of finance and assistant general manager at East Chicago’s Ameristar, blamed the drop in revenue on a combination of the weather, gas prices and the general economy.

“I think when you have such beautiful weather early in the year people want to do outside things. Plus, this is still a very difficult economy overall and in March gas prices spiked up,” Schuffert said.

The five region casinos raked in $104 million last month, compared to about $109 million the previous March, according to figures released Tuesday by the Indiana Gaming Commission.

Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Gaming Insight, said March’s revenues statewide were at the lowest level since racinos hit it big in 2008.

“I was surprised on a number of fronts. March had everything going for it — an extra weekend day, which was a Saturday, and really fine weather,” Feigenbaum said.

Still, he said he was not persuaded that the increase in casino revenues reported in February represented a turnaround for the industry.

“Instead of saying we have lower numbers, we should be saying we have lower expectations. Then, if the economy improves and gas prices fall, we should welcome the money we do get,” Feigenbaum said.

On the positive side, Nita said Horseshoe Hammond’s attendance was higher than the previous month and broke the 500,000 mark, which he called “a big plus.” Horseshoe’s attendance was 518,000 last month compared to 479,404 in March 2011. Also, Horseshoe took in more than $50 million in March 2011, one of just a handful of times it has broken that mark. The Hammond casino took in $46.2 million in revenues this March.

Ameristar Casino East Chicago took in $22.8 million in revenues, compared to $24 million the previous March, Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City saw a slight increase with $16 million in revenues compared to $15.5 million and Majestic Star Casinos in Gary broke even at $19.2 million each March.

Majestic Star and Blue Chip casinos also saw attendance increases.

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