Pharos-Tribune

Local News

March 6, 2013

Indiana's Losing Streak

As Indiana’s gambling revenue declines, neighboring Ohio opens

CINCINATTI — Standing inside the glittering, 400,000-square-foot Horseshoe Casino in the heart of this city’s downtown, Steve Rosenthal sounded like a happy man as he greeted an Indiana reporter who’d come for sneak peek of Ohio’s newest gambling hall.

As a partner in Rock Gaming, the company developing the $400 million venue that opened Monday, he’s counting on Ohio’s neighbors to cross the state border with fistfuls of cash and credit cards in hand.

“I would love to have Hoosiers come visit us,” said Rosenthal. “The casino is just one more reason to come to Cincinnati.”

Sounds so cordial, doesn’t it? But Ohio’s decision to get into the lucrative world of gaming is posing a serious threat to Indiana’s share of casino dollars and prompting a statehouse debate about how to respond.  

As Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati officially opened, it is the fourth big-city casino launched in the Buckeye state in 10 months – and the closest one to the Indiana border.

In location and amenities, it’s designed to be enticing: Just a short hop off the interstates that run through the city, the upscale casino is fronted by a crystal-chandeliered, glass-walled entryway that offers a sweeping view of the city’s downtown.  

Open 24/7, it features 2,000 slot machines, 87 table games, a VIP players’ lounge with limits as high as $50,000 a hand, a World Series of Poker room, a private bar for big spenders, (and one for low-rollers, too), and three outward-facing restaurants, including singer Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.

Also inside: 1,700 friendly employees, eager to make you feel welcome enough to willingly part with your money.

Ohioans long resisted Las Vegas-style gambling, sure of the ills it would bring. Three times, the state’s voters turned down gambling measures on the ballot before finally approving legalized casinos in 2009.

What changed? Hurting from the recession — and the related deep cuts in state services when tax revenues plunged — voters decided the estimated $1 billion being wagered annually by Ohio residents in neighboring states like Indiana needed to stay home.

“They were ready to recapture those dollars,” said Matt Shuler, executive director of the state’s Casino Control Commission. The theme the pro-casino campaign, Shuler said: “Ohio needs the money.”

Ohio only had to look to Indiana to see how fruitful gambling could be.

Since the mid-1990s, when it became the sixth state in the nation to legalize casino gaming, Indiana has raked in more than $10 billion in casino taxes and drawn millions of gamblers across state lines.  

Last year, Indiana’s 13 riverboat-, land-based and racetrack casinos saw $2.7 billion in gross gaming revenues and paid more than $450 million in wages and benefits to 14,000-plus employees.  

The American Gaming Association ranks Indiana as the third largest commercial gambling market in the nation.

“Indiana is a gaming state,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, whose district includes the Hoosier Park racetrack casino in Anderson. “That’s just the case.”

But fortunes are changing.

There are now 23 states with a cut of the action, and more than 1,200 commercial casinos competing for gaming dollars. More than half the states with legalized casinos have gotten into the game since 2008.

Indiana saw the problems coming. Three years ago, state fiscal analysts predicted the arrival of casinos in Ohio, coupled with casino expansion in Illinois and Michigan, would cut deeply into the competition for gambling dollars and the hefty tax revenue stream that helps fund essential public services in Indiana.

Now they’re witnessing their fears: In the short months they’ve been open, the casinos in Toledo, Columbus, and Cleveland have earned more than $404 million and generated $133 million in taxes. With Cincinnati, the total casino revenues in Ohio are predicted to hit almost $1 billion a year.

Meanwhile, Indiana is on a losing streak.

Admissions and revenue are down over the last three years.

Patronage at the state’s riverboat and land-based casinos have fallen under 2 million for the past five consecutive months. That’s the longest such streak in a decade, said Ed Feigenbaum, who tracks the numbers for his Indiana Gaming Insight newsletter.

“Things are only going to get worse,” Feigenbaum said. The additional casinos aren’t expanding the gaming market, he said, they’re “cannibalizing the market.”

January was a particularly gruesome month. Combined, Indiana’s five floating casinos on Lake Michigan saw the lowest revenues since December 2001. The six southern Indiana casinos had their worst month since January 2003.

Indiana legislators are trying to come to grips with the grim news. A bill that passed the state Senate last week would grant tax breaks to the state’s 10 riverboat casinos and allow them to relocate nearby to dry land. And it would give Indiana’s racetrack-casinos the ability to operate table games like craps, roulette, and blackjack.

But the complicated legislation, described by Feigenbaum as a “Rube Goldberg device,” faces an uncertain future in the House.

Opponents fear the tax breaks will cut too deeply into the tax revenue streams that the state and local communities where the casinos are located have come to rely on.

And Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma of Indianapolis said the bill may be seen as an expansion of gambling – something his conservative caucus members will oppose.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane fears the legislation will simply die. “This issue is ‘Can we wait another year?’,” Lanane said. “In my opinion, if we put it off, the problem will only become more severe.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • UPDATED: Logansport HS teacher arrested on child seduction charge

    A Logansport High School teacher was arrested Thursday on a charge of child seduction.

    April 18, 2014

  • Police blotter: April 18, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 18, 2014

  • NWS-PT041814 LC50 cords.jpg 50 years later WALTON -- Dean "D.A." Zehring graduated from the current Lewis Cass High School, but he never attended classes there. It's one of the unique characteristics of the graduating class of 1968, the first class to complete all four years of high school un

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Caston considers Logan bus stop FULTON -- Caston Schools administrators are considering establishing a bus stop a few miles outside its boundaries on the north side of Logansport. The school board recently discussed the feasibility of adding a bus stop for students transferring fro

    April 18, 2014

  • mushroom Parks let mushroom hunters forage off-trail INDIANAPOLIS - Rain that pounded Brown County State Park in early April dampened the number of hikers and mountain bikers in Indiana's largest state park, but foragers of the property's 15,000 acres of forest welcomed the weather. With the arrival o

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police blotter: April 17, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 17, 2014

  • NWS-PT041714 G.jpg Sign of support: Class meant to connect hearing-impaired family members Jordanna Dishner-Rush gestured forcefully to a coat rack hanging in the back of the meeting room at the Logansport Library. She was trying to use just hand motions — no speech — to get the other women to guess the secret word she'd been given. Dishne

    April 17, 2014 12 Photos

  • Logansport graduation rate rises again Logansport High School's graduation rate jumped almost 2 percentage points to 92.9 percent in 2013, data released Wednesday show. The Indiana Department of Education released graduation data for the 2012-2013 school year Wednesday. The data show that

    April 17, 2014

  • NWS-PT041714 Mustangs.jpg Local dealer celebrates the Mustang Fifty years ago today, the Ford Mustang was introduced to the public at the New York World's Fair. Now, six of them will be on display for the next few weeks at Rick's Auto Sales in Logansport celebrating what the business owner says is a half centur

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Redevelopment commission proposes new TIF expansion The Logansport Redevelopment Commission is now considering including land surrounding Water Street in a proposed consolidation of the city's tax increment financing districts. A tax increment financing, or TIF, district, captures the increments of an

    April 17, 2014

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Should mushroom hunters be allowed to forage off-trail in Indiana state parks?

Yes
No
Undecided
     View Results
eEdition