What Pandemic? Indiana Casinos Bounce Back to Near Pre-COVID Revenue Levels

Posted on: August 11, 2020, 09:24h. 

Last updated on: August 11, 2020, 12:51h.

Indiana casinos began reopening on June 15 following a mandatory three-month shutdown, and gamblers have quickly returned, and along with them, revenue.

Indiana casinos GGR sports betting
Customers at Indiana casinos apparently feel safe, as gross gaming revenue was strong in July. (Image: Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar)

The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) this week released casino revenue data for July, and the state’s 13 commercial gaming venues have surprisingly quickly healed from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) from slot machines, table games, and sports betting totaled $175.8 million — only $10.1 million off July 2019’s total haul. That’s a decrease of 5.4 percent, quite strong considering Indiana casinos are operating under numerous restrictions and occupancy limits.

Nita’s Horseshoe once again was the top dog in the Indiana gaming industry. The property, owned by Caesars Entertainment, reported GGR of $30.5 million, just $2 million short of its July 2019 win.

Casino guests and employees must undergo screening before being admitted entry and wear face mask coverings while inside the venue. Social distancing must be observed throughout the gaming floor, with slot machines rearranged and table games limited to three players each, four on roulette, and six at craps.

Sports Betting Tops $1B

The PGA Tour returned in June, and July marked the beginning of the much-delayed MLB regular season and restart of the NBA.

With major professional sports back, Hoosier oddsmakers enjoyed a strong July showing. Nearly $71 million was wagered on sports last month, pushing handle past the $1 billion threshold in just 10 months since legal sportsbooks commenced operations in Indiana.

Though oddsmakers are far short of their pre-market handle projections because of the pandemic, July numbers show bettors are eager to get back to wagering. The NFL is set to begin its season next month.

Indiana’s beloved Indianapolis Colts are at 24/1 to win the Super Bowl. It’s a new-look Indy team following last year’s surprise announcement from QB Andrew Luck that he was retiring at the age of 29. Colts brought in veteran QB Philip Rivers to replace him.

Caesars Fire Sale

The $17.3 billion merger of Caesars and Eldorado Resorts has resulted in the combined group controlling five of Indiana’s 13 commercial casinos and racinos. That’s too much of a monopoly in the eyes of state gaming regulators.

In its approval of the merger, the Indiana Gaming Commission told the new Caesars Entertainment that it would need to dispose of three properties. The IGC gave Caesars just five months to sell the casinos.

Last month, the company said Horseshoe Casino in Hammond would be disposed of by the end of the year. The group also plans to sell Caesars Southern Indiana in Elizabeth and Tropicana Casino in Evansville.

Buyers and terms have yet to be disclosed.