Jackpot: Local casinos hit record profits - Saturday 12th of March 2005

February combined revenues cracked all previous records set by the five Northwest Indiana casinos, coming in at $112.8 million over the 28-day month.

Gamblers dropped a record $14.7 million on table games at a single casino - Horseshoe in Hammond - to boost the month's combined revenues.

Some of the same players who'd pocketed big wins at Horseshoe tables in previous months weren't so lucky in February, Horseshoe General Manager Rick Mazer said.

"It's one of the things you deal with, especially when you deal with the high-end gamblers," Mazer said. "You have big swings, real high one month and real low the next. It's very volatile."

"Horseshoe set a record for the state," breaking even previous records set by the Argosy casino in southern Indiana, said Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Gaming Insight, which tracks activity at Indiana's 10 riverboat casinos.

"It was just an incredible month, particularly given that February is traditionally not a great month," he said.

The whopping table drop put Horseshoe at the head of the pack both locally and in the state, giving the Hammond boat a $42.8-million month. Only the Argosy, in Lawrenceburg came close, at $37.5 million.

Harrah's in East Chicago, which is being sold to Colony Capital, tallied $27 million for the month, topping its January revenues but falling about $1.5 million short of February 2004.

Revenues were up in February at all five Lake Michigan casinos compared to January, when wintery weather was blamed for holding the month to a combined $92.4 million.

However, all but Horseshoe failed to top revenues from February a year ago.

Weather may have played a hand in getting 79,300 more people on board the riverboats in February than in January.

"Maybe after the lousy January people literally went stir crazy and wanted to get out," Feigenbaum said.

The previous record for the Lake Michigan riverboats was $112 million in July.

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