Columbia Sussex Corporation announced its first quarter earnings at its numerous casino holdings, including Casino Aztar in Evansville. The report shows gaming revenue is down 9.5% and estimated profits are off 16.3% at the Evansville casino compared to the first quarter in 2006. A company statement says the new French Lick, Indiana casino is "cutting into the propertys performance." Columbia Sussex bought Aztar and its holdings last year, and took control of Casino Aztar in Evansville in January of 2007. This is the companys first earnings statement since that purchase, and some business analysts think it is a bad sign. Columbia Sussex has already butted heads with Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel over plans to lay off 70 casino employees. The announcement of lagging sales and profits comes amid firings of hospitality staff at an Atlantic City, New Jersey venue owned by Columbia Sussex, and the pending sale of a Missouri casino the company owns. "It wouldnt surprise me to see Casino Aztar spun off," said local business magazine publisher Todd Tucker. Tucker, who has highlighted Columbia Sussex CEO Bill Yung III in his magazine, thinks Yung may be making cuts at the Evansville casino to make it more appealing to potential buyers. He called Aztar "small potatoes" in Yungs holdings portfolio. That view stands in contrast to the importance the gambling venue holds here. "Make no mistake about it," Tucker said, "we have to keep this boat up and viable. The casino provides a lifeline of cash and weve become very reliant on the casino." Tucker pointed to the infusion of cash gambling give Evansville and Vanderburgh County as reasons local residents and politicians should pay close attention to its future.