Economy Taking Bite From Indiana Casinos
Casinos end worst November in 15 years
The latest attendance figures for Indiana's riverboat casinos reinforce fears of a war of attrition with neighboring states.
1.7 million gamblers tried their luck in Indiana casinos last month. That's the worst November for the casinos in 15 years, and produced the lowest revenue for any month since 2008.
Indiana Gaming Insight publisher Ed Feigenbaum says Ohio's new casinos are cutting into business in southeast Indiana sooner than expected, while Evansville's Casino Aztar saw an anticipated attendance drop while it completes a renovation. But he says all the state's casinos are paying the price for the still-sluggish economy, as people cut back on discretionary spending.
Casinos plan to ask legislators to tweak the tax code, but Feigenbaum says there's not much else the state can do to help. He says the state is locked into its decision to put all but the French Lick casino along the state's borders. Now that Illinois and Ohio are adding casinos, he says Indiana's boats will have to spruce up to hang onto the out-of-state customers they've courted.
Indiana budget forecasters were expecting a 5% drop in wagering and admissions taxes this fiscal year, in large part because of the out-of-state competition. So far, the state is running slightly ahead of that projection, and actually raked in more money from the casinos in November than for the same month in 2011. Feigenbaum says tax collections tend to lag a few months behind.