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Indiana's hand isn't looking as good as it once was when it comes to casino competition.
Indiana was way ahead of the game when it started green-lighting casinos in the mid-'90s, but there's some ominous signs that the cash-flush party may soon be over.
According to the Northwest Indiana Times, state revenue forecasts are projecting a $41.4 million drop in revenues for Indiana casinos over the next two years, a 9 percent drop.
The projection is based on new casinos planned for Ohio in cities like Cincinnati (early 2013), whose residents now typically cross the border in order to gamble at the three Indiana casinos within an hour's drive.
But the competition is coming from all ends of the Hoosier state, and Northwest Indiana casinos are certainly watching the political movements closely on the Illinois side of the border.
The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines provided a definitive body blow when it opened in 2011, but a gambling expansion bill could see the light of day in the Illinois Legislature this session that could potentially add casinos in Chicago and the south suburbs.
It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that at some point there has to a threshold on the availability of elderly women willing to spend hours on end pumping nickels into slot machines. Or enough high rollers to go around.
Indiana leaders see the writing on the wall, but with five casinos already in the Northwest area and relatively stagnant attendance, the response from some corners may or may not be surprising -- let's just build more.
Hammond mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., a longtime opponent of a Gary-based land-based casino, last month agreed to endorse Gary's plan -- as long as Hammond could get a second casino of its own.
Even without those two new Indiana casinos, it's very plausible that the Chicago area could have up to 13 casinos within a couple hours drive of each other in the next few years.
Is there enough cash to go around? Looks like the fierce casino competition won't just be relegated to the tables.