Indiana’s casinos, like many land-based casinos have been taking huge hits to their bottom lines due to the sluggish economy and bad weather. But the biggest threat Indiana casinos now face may not be from mother nature or from the economy, but from neighbouring states seeking to peel away gamblers.
It’s simply a situation where the market is highly competitive and saturated and the competition for land-based gambling dollars is reaching a fever pitch.
Indiana’s gambling industry faces threats from all angles. According to the state gaming commission records, already, admissions at Indiana’s 11 full casinos dropped about 3 percent through the first six months of this year when compared with 2010. Additionally, the revenues at those casinos and two central Indiana horse tracks with slot machines dipped to the lowest point in three years, falling more than $22 million from last year to $1.39 billion during the first half of 2011.
“It goes back to the economy. It goes to gas prices, and the use of a person’s income,” said Jim Brown, president of Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson and the chairman of the Casino Association of Indiana- Chicago Tribune.
So why would a person with very little disposable income who isn’t a problem gambler, spend their cash to travel to the nearest available in state casino, when they can have access to a closer casino out of state? This is the real problem Indiana is facing.
Neighbouring states like Ohio, are already signed on for gambling expansion and in Illinois Gov Quinn is still grappling over the possibility of signing a major gambling expansion bill. It all means more competition for gambling dollars, gambling dollars which have become increasingly important for state’s budgets in a sluggish economy.
The opening of the planned $400 million Cincinnati casino in two years is expected to hurt business at the three southeastern Indiana casinos and as the Tribune reports, two studies conducted during the past two years have estimated the Ohio casino market could cut revenues at Indiana’s casinos 20 percent to 30 percent.
Obviously, if Indiana wants to keep pace they’ll have to enact their own gambling expansion legislation or there’s another alternative, online gambling. It’s only a matter of time before the online gambling idea stops just making sense and starts making dollars and sense.