Gambling in the Hoosier State is roaring back following an unprecedented three-month casino shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, Indiana not only topped $1 billion in total sports wagers since betting on many professional and college sporting events was legalized last September.
Indiana casinos also recorded nearly identical "win," or revenue after paying successful bettors, as July 2019 — despite COVID-19 restrictions limiting the number of available slot machines and table game seats, according to data released Monday by the Indiana Gaming Commission.
"We're very pleased with the July results," said Dan Nita, general manager of the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond and regional president of its parent company, Caesars Entertainment Inc.
"We continue to work very hard on providing a great entertainment escape for our guests, and over the last several weeks we continue to find ways to add to the experience."
Since reopening June 15, Indiana casino patrons have been subject to body temperature checks and other COVID-19 screenings to enter, a mask-wearing requirement once inside, and strict capacity limits, including roughly every other slot machine turned off and no more than three or four players at most table games.
Nevertheless, last month's $175.8 million in statewide casino win was just was $10.1 million below Indiana casino win for July 2019, when none of the coronavirus restrictions were in place, according to the Gaming Commission
The $30.5 million in July win at the Horseshoe once again led all 13 state-regulated casinos, and was just $2 million less than what the Horseshoe took in during a very different July 2019, Gaming Commission data show.
Nita said that was made possible working within the restrictions by, for example, spreading slot machines across the gaming floor in new configurations, repurposing the temporarily shuttered poker room for additional slots, and making sure the most in-demand games were available.
In addition, he said the Horseshoe is seeing a lot of new players seeking excitement that before the pandemic they might have found by attending a professional sporting event, a movie or another entertainment option no longer available due to COVID-19.
"Where we were from June 15 to where we are almost two months later, we've definitely learned a lot along the way, and we definitely are trying to provide a great entertainment experience for our guests," Nita said.
According to the Gaming Commission, Ameristar Casino in East Chicago ranked third statewide with $20.8 million in win last month, a $4.3 million increase compared to July 2019.
Meanwhile, the Majestic Star casinos in Gary collected $11.4 million last month versus $12.6 million last July; and the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City recorded $9.2 million in July win compared to $13.2 million last year, a reduction due in part to the casino closing for daily cleaning between 4 and 8 a.m.
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