Gross gaming revenue (GGR) for three casinos in Massachusetts amounted to a whopping $95.98 million for the month of Oct.
The casinos have broken the revenue record for a second time this year after their previous record of $95.74 million in Jul.
Revenue breakdown for Massachusetts casinos
Three gaming facilities stand in the Bay State. Combined, the MA casinos earned nearly $96 million in GGR in Oct.
Encore Boston Harbor
The Encore, owned by Wynn Resorts, is a $2.4 billion casino destination located in Everett near downtown Boston. Almost two-thirds of the total Oct. GGR came from Encore, a healthy $62.8 million. The casino saw a 9.2% increase in revenue in Oct. compared to the month prior.
MGM Springfield is the state’s western-most casino. It brought in a reported $21.4 million in revenue for Oct. While only representing 22% of the state’s total casino revenue for the month, they reported a 10% overall revenue increase in Oct over the previous month.
The majority of MGM’s revenue came from the slot machines, which contributed $16.8 million.
Owned and operated by Penn National Gaming and Gaming and Leisure Properties, Plainridge Park is located just a few miles from the Rhode Island border.
The slots-only casino earned $11.7 million, representing 12% of the state’s overall casino revenue for Oct. As opposed to the other two facilities, Plainridge reported a 1.7% decrease in monthly revenue.
Issues faced by Plainridge Park
There are mounting concerns that the southeastern MA casino business is being lost to nearby casinos across the state border in Rhode Island. Specifically, there are two destinations rebranded with the Bally’s name that pose this threat.
Further struggles may be faced by Plainridge since Bally’s Twin River has a $100 million expansion planned. The expansion includes cosmetic upgrades, more gaming space, an entertainment venue, and an on-site spa.
Both nearby Rhode Island casinos can offer customers sports betting and table games. Since Plainridge is a Category 2 gambling terminal, it can only provide customers with slot machines.
Difference between category 1 and 2 casinos
The difference between category 1 resort casinos and category 2 slot parlors is the types of games allowed. Category 2 allows only slot machines. Category 1 facilities can also offer table games.
The two categories of casinos are also subject to different tax and investment requirements. While the category 2 slot locations pay 49% of their revenue in taxes, category 1 casinos only pay 25%.
Even though their taxes are higher, category 2 slot parlors are only required to invest $125 million. Category 1 casinos must have a minimum capital investment of $500 million.
Lawmakers to help Plainridge Park
In response to the planned expansion at Bally’s Twin River, some MA lawmakers are pushing for a Plainridge Park expansion. The push includes allowing the slots-only casino to add table games and increase their slot machines.
State Rep. Jeff Roy said:
“We’re here to push for a modest expansion of Plainridge so that the commonwealth can best compete with our neighbors to the south, and we can protect the jobs, our local businesses, and the tax revenues that have been generated from Plainridge Park.”
The proposed measure would allow Plainridge Park to add 250 additional slot machines and a maximum of 30 table games. Lawmakers estimate that the proposed expansion would bring 175 new jobs to Plainridge Park.
When MA legalized casino gambling in 2011, the state allowed licenses for three resort casinos and one slots-only facility. Plainridge holds the slots-only license, while only two of the allowed resort casino licenses are held by Encore and MGM.
Legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts can help
While sports betting is not currently legal MA, the House approved a bill back in July to finally legalize it. However, the Senate has not historically shown interest in legalizing sports betting.
With neighboring states like New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut already allowing sports betting, the ban in MA is only allowing lost revenue to its neighbors. Legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts could bring that revenue back.
Oct. proved to be the most successful revenue month for Massachusetts casinos thus far. But, the competition in neighboring states continues to be a concern for local lawmakers. Only time will tell if current proposals regarding sports betting and a Plainridge expansion will benefit the state’s gambling market.
Benefits to the state
Depending on the category, casinos in MA pay between 25-49% of GGR in taxes. As casinos earn increasing GGR every year, residents of the state can benefit from this tax revenue in many ways.
Tax revenue provides support for various public programs, including local aid, transportation, infrastructure and education.