While returns at Massachusetts casinos failed to meet projections and fell from month to month, it isn’t all bad news. October gaming revenue this year is more than twice what it was in the same month last year.
While that sounds impressive, it’s important to consider the context. Most of the reason for that growth is the entry of Encore Boston Harbor.
Breaking down the October gaming revenue numbers
For the month of October 2019, the three Massachusetts casinos reported revenues of over $78.24 million. The breakdown by facility is as follows:
- Encore Boston Harbor: over $45.81 million
- MGM Springfield: over $21.19 million
- Plainridge Park: over $11.24 million
In October of 2018, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park combined for more than $35.76 million in revenue. At that time, Encore Boston Harbor was still under construction.
Taking away Encore’s contribution, Massachusetts gaming revenues are actually down about 9.4% year-over-year. That’s consistent with recent month-over-month comparisons.
September 2019’s downturn spills over into October
After Encore Boston Harbor’s revenue fell by over $3.5 million in September, October’s numbers made it not look so bad in comparison. October is now the worst full month as far as revenue goes since the casino opened.
MGM and Plainridge Park were down in September as compared to August, as well. For Plainridge, that continued into October, as its revenue fell another 2.6% compared to the previous month.
MGM was an outlier, however. The Springfield casino actually had its best month since May, enjoying a 4.5% bump in October as compared to September.
A year-to-date comparison normally offers some insight for analysts, but it actually wouldn’t be of much value in this case. MGM Springfield didn’t open until late in August of last year, and Encore Boston Harbor wasn’t open at any time during those months.
The declining revenues mean a couple of things for the industry. Like any business, it’s important to build on what is working and look for ways to innovate.
How Massachusetts casinos can build on momentum
For Encore Boston Harbor, which opened in late June, the losses are on the table. Slot revenue was actually at its highest yet and grew 2.9% over September.
The inverse was true for MGM Springfield in October. Its table games grew an impressive 16.8% month-over-month while its slots fell.
While it’s unlikely either facility will want to abandon the segment of its business that isn’t performing as well, these numbers represent the market speaking to the casino owners. Targeted advertising campaigns could help both facilities build on existing momentum.
In addition, offering patrons new reasons to open their wallets is wise. For that, all three casinos need look no further than the Saratoga Casino Hotel in nearby New York.
A ‘sportsbook’ setting could boost traffic
The Saratoga Casino Hotel recently renovated a part of its facility to have the aesthetic of a retail sportsbook. Complete with video walls and parimutuel betting, it gives customers a new reason to visit the casino and acts as a placeholder for if/when gambling expansion comes to the Empire State.
Saratoga isn’t alone in this either, as the MGM Grand Detroit has done the same thing in anticipation of Michigan legal sports betting. Although there’s no telling when Massachusetts sports betting might become legal, there are other benefits to offering the latest and greatest to customers now.
The casino industry in Massachusetts is much bigger than it was at this time last year, but it isn’t more profitable. This could signal an opportunity for the gaming industry in the state to explore more ways to attract new business.