Another Strong Month For Casinos As Sports Betting, Poker Draw Attention

Posted By George Myers on July 21, 2021 - Last Updated on July 22, 2021

Casinos in Massachusetts saw a continued return to normalcy in June, although a slight seasonal swoon saw a dip in the amount raised by all three.

Altogether, the three sites eclipsed $84 million in combined gross gaming revenue in the still-rocky recovery from COVID-19 – strong figures also tallied without attractions like poker.

MA casinos enjoy another month of normalcy

The three casinos produced more than $23.7 million in taxes, according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

The majority of that money heads to local aid, transportation funding and education spending, while portions of Plainridge’s tax revenue funnels to the state’s Race Horse Development Fund.

Here is the breakdown of Massachusetts’ three casinos and the money they generated in June:

  • Encore Boston Harbor: $29.3 million slots, $23.2 million table games
  • MGM Springfield: $16.53 million, $3.67 million table games
  • Plainridge Park Casino: $11.3 million slots

The revenue generated by Massachusetts casinos last month reflected a slight dip from the previous month’s figures.

Compared to May, the $52.5 million generated by Encore in June represents a minor drop from the $52.9 million tallied in May. The $20.2 million reported by MGM Springfield last month was down from the $21.2 million in May. Plainridge, meanwhile, posted $11.3 million in slots after reporting $12.5 million the previous month.

Past the financial nitpickings, though, Massachusetts casinos are simply relishing their relative sense of normalcy and – so far – continued recovery from the ravages of COVID-19.

While slow reopenings began in July 2020, the casinos weren’t permitted to fully reopen until May. That makes what has been regular growth since late 2020 even more impressive.

Finalities like the end of mask offerings remain out of reach. But for Massachusetts casinos, normalcy largely reigns again.

Still no poker at Encore, MGM

Decisions on the future of poker inside Massachusetts casinos – specifically Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield – still remain unknown.

The game has yet to re-emerge following initial COVID-19 measures, and there is still a lack of indication for when the popular offering could begin again.

MGC officials opined recently that casinos are waiting to see how other betting opportunities, including the potential for sports wagering legalization, before re-committing to poker.

Such excuses haven’t calmed the antsiness of poker players left without a hand the last 16 months, despite the allowance since summer 2020 to reopen poker rooms, albeit with limitations.

But those limitations, including table seating allowances, ended in May. Still, no poker.

Complaints have continued to grow. Casinos have customers to have patience, noting that decisions will come before the end of 2021. Still, any poker brought back will likely occur on a smaller scale than before.

Sports betting heads to the docket

For now, attention shifts to sports betting in Massachusetts, a topic for which House members are expected to soon begin debate on legislation that would finally legalize the practice.

One bill, already approved by a House committee, is expected to be heard in the full House on Thursday. Other legislation is also under consideration.

Among topics to discuss include in-stadium betting as well as licensing for casinos, racetracks and mobile apps.

Efforts come after a failed effort in the previous year’s session. It seems unlikely lawmakers will tolerate a similar failure. Especially considering the opportunity for massive tax revenue gains and the normalization of the practice across the nation.

Photo by AP / Michael Dwyer
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George Myers

George Myers is a writer with extensive experience in both news and sports reporting. He has primarily covered baseball and football, along with the intersection of sports and lawmaking.

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