Study: Massachusetts

Mar 30, 2010 1:45 AM

Connecticut’s two tribal casinos – like casinos throughout the country – reported declines in revenues during 2009 because of the economic malaise that afflicted the nation but it wasn’t because their neighbor to the north – Massachusetts – didn’t do its share.

In fact, according to a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Bay State residents spent nearly $1 billion at New England’s casinos and racinos last year, a 5 percent increase over 2008.

Clyde Barrow, author of The New England Casino Gaming 2010 update called his study a surprise since "visitations and spending at gaming facilities are down." He said he believed the increase in gambling by Massachusetts residents might be because "disposable income has continued to increase in the Massachusetts market area through the recession."

Evidence developed by the researchers showed that Massachusetts residents spent a combined $730.6 million at Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, a 3 percent jump over 2008.

A similar pattern was seen in both Rhode Island and Maine. At Rhode Island’s greyhound track/slots facility in Lincoln, Mass. residents spent $237 million versus $210 million in the previous year while at the Hollywood Slots facility in Bangor, Maine, a casino owned by Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN), Mass. residents poured $709,000 into the slot machines, an 18 percent increase over the previous year.

The study would seem to be good news for the supporters of casinos and racinos in Massachusetts, including Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) whose CEO Sheldon Adelson, a Massachusetts native, has been lobbying for a license to build a casino in the center of the state.

Gov. Deval Patrick is on record as favoring licenses for from two to four casinos while House Speaker Robert DeLeo will soon file legislation that authorizes two casinos and slots at four racetracks.

Also benefiting from the study, although not mentioned directly, is New Hampshire where an effort is being made to pass legislation authorizing slots and/or table games at the state’s racetracks.