January numbers are on the rise at Massachusetts first casino.
Slot machines at Plainridge Park Casino pulled in $12.5 million in gross revenues in January, according to a report (pdf) on Tuesday from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. That’s up from December’s numbers of approximately $11.3 million.
Since opening in late June, the state’s first casino has under-performed what gaming analysts had predicted for the slots parlor and harness racing track; even though it has the market to itself in Massachusetts, with the Wynn Everett and MGM Springfield casinos not expected to open until 2018. Until January, it witnessed a steady decline in monthly revenues since its launch in late June. Revenue peaked in July, when the casino posted $18.1 million in gross gambling revenue. In October, the casino reported bringing in $12.9 million, and according to state revenue figures, that was the highest tally prior to January.
The casino’s general manager, Lance George, says more time is needed for the facility’s performance to become more predictable, that it is currently experiencing revenue “ebbs and flows,” according to the Associated Press. Gaming analysts have their own take on why the original $300 million gaming experts forecasted for the casino during its first full year trickled down to a $210 million “worst case scenario,” and was finally cut to $160 million by state regulators. The last figure was announced after the slot parlor’s biggest competitor, Twin River Casino in neighboring Rhode Island, increased its annual revenue estimates by $35 million.
Experts have pointed out that Plainridge Park may be too small, and that a slots parlor with 1,250 slot machines and no table games attracts a limited crowd, while patrons can make the half hour’s drive and experience a more Vegas-like atmosphere. The competition in Rhode Island has 4,000 slot machines, table games, and in November added poker tables. Meanwhile, due to restrictions imposed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, true table games are prohibited; machines are limited to animated electronic tables that function like slots; and rather than a casino license, Plainridge Park was granted a license for a Category 2 slots parlor.
It’s unclear why Plainridge Park hasn’t lived up to expectations yet and it remains to be seen if January’s upswing is an indication that the facility will turn into the lucrative gambling venue that was predicted. Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has stated it will be watching the facility’s operations closely.
Plainridge Park is taxed on forty-nine percent of its gross gaming revenue, of that total 82 percent goes to Local Aid, with the Race Horse Development Fund receiving 18 percent.