Gary’s Hard Rock Casino Celebrates Dominant First Year Of Business

Posted on May 16, 2022

It’s been one year since Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana opened for business. The Gary casino has become a powerhouse in Indiana’s gambling industry.

Hard Rock is one of the most popular gambling hotspots in the entire state, but more competition is on the way to challenge its dominance.

One year for Hard Rock Casino

Hard Rock has become the most profitable casino in Indiana since it opened for business in May 2021. That’s thanks to the building making the most of its location.

The casino’s proximity to Chicago allows the property to pull in customers from both sides of the state line.

It didn’t take long for Hard Rock to get off to a fast start, and that’s a trend that’s continued to snowball over the past year.

Hard Rock racked up $38.2 million worth of earnings during April alone, which was a nice step up from the second-place $31.8 million haul from Horseshoe Hammond.

Gary’s casino finishing a month as Indiana’s top earner is no anomaly.

Hard Rock has been atop the earnings podium on Indiana’s revenue reports since last fall. Consistent huge numbers like that translate to millions of dollars worth of taxes.

Here’s a quick look at the casinos that have generated the most tax money since Hard Rock opened for business last year:

  1. Horseshoe Hammond: $124.5 million
  2. Hard Rock: $98.1 million
  3. Horseshoe Indianapolis: $85 million
  4. Ameristar East Chicago: $81.8 million
  5. Caesars Southern Indiana: $71.8 million

Hard Rock’s taxes flow straight into Indiana and the city of Gary. If the casino maintains its spot as the highest earner in the state, then it won’t be long before its tax totals start to pass up Hammond’s.

New amenities for Hard Rock Casino

Part of Hard Rock’s success in Gary is due to the casino consistently adding to its entertainment lineup.

For example, the casino just opened a brand-new retail sportsbook at the property. That gives gamblers one more wagering option when they visit Hard Rock.

Opening up the sportsbook finally signaled the end of phase one for Gary’s Hard Rock. The second batch of construction will add a new hotel and a multi-level parking garage to the property.

Adding onto the building will help keep customers engaged for years to come.

Bally’s Chicago Casino

Hard Rock’s geographic location has been a huge benefit for the casino since it opened last year, but it will also become one of the biggest challenges for the building’s future.

There’s already a ton of casino competition in the surrounding areas. Ameristar, Hammond and Blue Chip Casino are all practically next-door neighbors with Hard Rock.

And then there’s the competition coming from Chicago.

Bally’s just won approval to build a new casino in Chicago. When that building eventually opens, it will be competing directly with Hard Rock for customers in the area.

Despite adding a newcomer to the area, Gary doesn’t seem worried about Bally’s affecting the city’s casino business.

“I think our operation continues to thrive and do well,” Gary Mayor Jerome Prince predicted.

Holding off the competition

Hard Rock’s future in Indiana will be all about elbowing the competition out of the way.

The city of Gary might not be concerned about Chicago’s new casino, but that isn’t the case for Hammond and Caesars Entertainment.

As part of its 2020 merger with Eldorado Resorts, Caesars was forced to sell off one of its casinos in Indiana. The company picked Horseshoe Hammond due to concerns about new competition moving in nearby.

Caesars ended up keeping the casino after it struggled to find a buyer.

Despite Hard Rock opening for business next door, Horseshoe Hammond has maintained its strong position in Indiana’s industry. That suggests that the area’s casino market is resilient enough to stand up to new competitors moving in nearby.

All things considered, Caesars is likely glad that the sale didn’t work out. Hammond might not be the top dog in Indiana anymore, but a firm hold on the number two spot is still incredibly profitable.

Hammond holding its own against Hard Rock bodes well for Hard Rock holding its own against Bally’s in the Chicago area.

Regardless of what happens in the future, Hard Rock’s stellar first year has the casino in position to dominate Indiana’s industry for years to come. That will become increasingly important over the next few years as things progress for Chicago’s new casino.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for PlayIndiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

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