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SEPTEMBER DIP ENDS STRING OF INCREASES AT CASINO NIAGARA

Casino Niagara's decrease in attendance and revenue last month indicates a September slump on the heels of a sizzling August, a trend that reflects the end of the tourism season, according to a casino official.

A 10-month revenue total of $407 million, along with the average monthly attendance rate of 24,500, however, far exceeds projections, said John Palumbo, casino spokesman.

"Casinos are revenue generators for the province at large," Palumbo said. "And we still have not hit a year yet."

Daily attendance rates at the Ontario casino averaged 27,000 in September -- down from 35,000 in August, according to Palumbo. Revenue totaled $43.6 million in September compared with a record $50 million in August.

With the exception of June, Palumbo pointed out, attendance and revenue rates both showed steady increases:

April: attendance, 24,700; revenue, $42.1 million.

May: attendance, 26,600; revenue, $43.3 million.

June: attendance, 26,000; revenue, $39 million.

July: attendance, 32,300; revenue, $47.5 million.

According to Palumbo, the fall months -- September, October and November -- are traditionally slow times, a trend casino officials hope to counter -- in part -- with an influx of video poker machines and 25-cent slot machines.

"People are more inclined to wager with quarters," Palumbo explained. The video poker machines, meanwhile, offer progressive pots and can award from $250 to $50,000 in winnings.

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