Connecticut and Massachusetts Casinos Struggle in December

Connecticut and Massachusetts casinos struggled last month, as gross gaming revenue (GGR) declined at each of the tribal and commercial gaming properties.

Massachusetts casinos Connecticut GGR

Traffic was slow last month at MGM Springfield and several other Connecticut and Massachusetts casinos. (Image: KM Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

In Connecticut, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun both reported reduced win from their slot operations.

Mohegan Sun, owned by the Mohegan Tribe, won $43.9 million from their slots. That’s an 11.8 percent decrease compared with December 2018. At Foxwoods, owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, slots kept $33.6 million. That’s a 10.1 percent year-over-year decline.

Handle, aka the total amount of money wagered, declined at both tribal casinos. As a result, the state collected less gaming tax money.

Under their Class III gaming compacts, the Connecticut tribes share 25 percent of their slot GGR with the state. They share no revenue from their table game operations, and therefore are not required to disclose such income.

Mass Problem

Things were not any better in neighboring Massachusetts. Three commercial casinos are now operational in the Bay State – MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, and the slots-only Plainridge Park.

MGM Springfield, a $960 million integrated casino resort that opened in August of 2018, endured its worth month on record. GGR from slots and tables totaled $18.9 million, a decline of $2.7 million compared to December 2018’s revenue of $21.6 million.

December 2019 marked back-to-back months for the MGM Resorts property reporting all-time monthly gaming lows. Executives, nonetheless, painted it positively.

We’re grateful for the many guests who braved some of December’s most inclement winter weather days in order to be with us, and thrilled many of them were winners at the slots and tables,” MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis told MassLive.

Plainridge Park’s December slot win came in at $10.2 million – down from $10.9 million – a 6.5 percent loss.

The lone bright spot was Encore Boston Harbor, the $2.6 billion casino resort complex that commenced operations last June. Gaming revenue totaled a little more than $54 million, which bested its $45 million win in October and $47 million in November.

More Competition Coming?

The fear among gaming industry experts is that there are more casinos than gamblers in the northeast, and that a saturation point has been met. And the clash for patrons might soon only further intensify.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is moving forward with considering its Region C license – the third and final full-scale integrated casino resort permit that remains available.

The agency has held off on issuing the operating concession on fears that the state’s Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe could receive federal permission to build a gaming resort in Taunton. It now appears the US Interior Department will not take the Native American’s land into federal trust, therefore blocking the casino project.

Connecticut’s two tribes say they remain committed to building a satellite casino in East Windsor, some 13 miles south of MGM Springfield. The venue gained favor in the Hartford capital because it’s designed to keep critical gaming money in Connecticut, not flowing across the border into Massachusetts. But it, too, has been the subject of numerous legal challenges, several from MGM.

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