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The chairman of the state gaming board is asking the public to reserve judgment on the Commonwealth’s plunge into Vegas-style gambling, even as the first slots parlor in Massachusetts continues to experience declining revenues.
Plainridge Park Casino, which state officials vowed would be a “major player in the New England casino industry, ” has faced falling revenues since opening in late June. In November, the casino pulled in $11.9 million, down by about $1 million from October and by about $6 million since July, the casino’s first full month of operation.
Stephen Crosby, the chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, said in a recent blog post that the casino is a “long term play” and that not enough time has gone by to pass judgment on the success or failure of Plainridge or the casino industry as a whole in the state.
“It will be many years before we will be able to truly assess the economic outcomes of the Commonwealth’s decision to authorize expanded gaming, ” Crosby wrote.
Crosby’s post, uploaded Sunday to the gaming commission’s website, also stressed other benefits of the Plainridge casino, including $30 million in state tax revenue, and the creation of 500 jobs. By 2018, he wrote, “Massachusetts will have seen an investment of at least $3.4 billion in its casino industry — Plainridge accounts for $250 million of that investment.”
Located off Interstate 95 near the Rhode Island border, Plainridge was positioned to stop the stream of Massachusetts gamblers headed for Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., just 11 miles away.
Budget analysts in Massachusetts at first projected Plainridge to generate $262 million annually in gambling revenue but slashed that estimate to $207 million in October and to $160 million last month.
At the same time, Rhode Island budget analysts, who had initially lowered their expectations because of the competition from Plainridge, last month added $35 million in overall projected slot machine revenue at Twin River.
Elaine Driscoll, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission spokeswoman, cautioned against making drastic conclusions from the Plainridge revenue totals.
“The slots facility is effectively competing for slots revenue from neighboring jurisdictions, ” Driscoll wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. “It is unclear if there is any one reason as to why revenues are currently below projections.”
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