Revenues sagged an overall 9.65 percent at the five Northwest Indiana casinos in April, with each boat realizing lower revenues during the month than in April 2011.

The five boats raked in a combined $94 million in April, as compared to $104.1 million in April 2011, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission's monthly revenue report.

Overall revenues at the five boats have declined in three of this year's first four months, with an 8.8 percent surge in February the lone bright spot.

Statewide, gaming revenues have hit the same choppy waters, with revenues sinking monthly on a year-over-year basis for much of the past year, said Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Gaming Insight.

"We just continue to be hurting in the state of Indiana, with businesses in general and our residents in general," Feigenbaum said. "Gas prices are up, food is up, and that all cuts into discretionary income."

With cross-border competition for gamblers growing, it will be interesting to see if Indiana lawmakers respond to the challenge or settle for an attitude of 'we'll be happy with what we get,'" Feigenbaum said.

Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City will feel more cross-border heat soon. The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is set to open its new 250-room hotel tower at Four Winds Casino at the end of June. A week later its new events center opens with a concert by Rod Stewart.

In April, Blue Chip revenue declined to $14.6 million in April from $15.4 million in April 2011, for a drop of 5.2 percent.

That was actually one of the smallest drops at local casinos. Only Majestic Star I's 4.7 percent drop in revenue was smaller. However, at Majestic Star II revenue dropped 11.8 percent.

At Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, revenue in April dropped to $41.7 million from $47.4 million in April 2011. The 11.9 percent drop in revenue at Horseshoe was the largest of any of the five Northwest Indiana gaming boats.

The drop in revenues at Northwest Indiana and Illinois casinos can in large part be attributed to the Rivers Casino that opened last year in Des Plaines, Ill., said Horseshoe Assistant General Manager Erin Chamberlin.

"Adding another casino into the Chicagoland market, that is something no one in a leadership position in this industry would say was a good idea," Chamberlin said.

Horseshoe is battling the new casino and the still-lagging economy with a variety of promotions, popular slot machines, high table limits and exceptional customer service, said Horseshoe Vice President of Finance Chris Riley.

Revenue at Ameristar Casino, in East Chicago, dropped to $19.8 million from $21.8 million in April 2011, for a 9.3 percent drop.

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