Assessing New England’s Casinos in the Last Week of 2020

After taking a little break during the week before Christmas, NETimeGambling is back to look to the New Year. Casino gambling’s immediate future in New England has never looked so bleak. It’s time to see where we are, where we are going, and how we’re going to get there. First, we start our series this week with “Step One” – Assessing New England’s Casinos in the Last Week of 2020.

Related Post – New England Casinos – A Look at 2020, Before the Pandemic

Assessing New England’s Casinos in the Last Week of 2020

People Are Staying Away

In my opinion, New England’s Casinos done the best they can to protect their guests. Safety has been the number-one governing principle for every casino’s reopening. Protocols, plexiglass, disinfecting playing surfaces, and game pieces have been implemented throughout. Unfortunately, as Holiday surges become the norm, confidence in a normal visit is still at an all-time low. Even the new vaccines won’t help immediately. Their effectiveness won’t be seen until the summer months after all phases have been implemented.

Revenue Needs a Boost Across New England

Without casino guests spending discretionary money, revenue will continue to tumble. Connecticut’s two mega-casinos are shadows of themselves. Massachusetts and Maine casinos can’t bring people in the doors. Pandemic hours of operation are making short nights where people’s excitement once fill the air.

Connecticut Casinos

Connecticut’s Tribal Casinos’ advantage of sovereignty has dwindled. Gov. Lamont can’t force the two casinos to close. Potential visits from gamblers in surrounding states don’t seem to be a big enough plus anymore.

Connecticut’s tribal casinos slot-machine revenues tanked in November, falling to levels not seen since the 1990s. Foxwoods Resort saw a 43.7% decline from the previous November. Mohegan Sun witnessed 37.7% from a year ago. “It’s all pandemic-related,” Jeff Hamilton, Mohegan Sun’s president, and general manager, reported.

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Foxwoods Covid Roulette

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Massachusetts Casinos

Same Story as above. Gaming revenue fell last month at all three Massachusetts casinos as they dealt with tightening pandemic restrictions. Together, Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield, and Encore Boston Harbor generated 35% less revenue in November than the previous month of October.

Assessing New England's Casinos in the Last Week of 2020
Just Before Opening

Massachusetts casinos are open but operating under strict COVID precautions. For example, MGM Springfield’s hours are only from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. Only about a third of the spots at its gambling tables and of its slot machines available. There is no hotel, no movie theater, and no spa. Foodservice is limited at all three casinos.

“It’s all pandemic-related,”

Jeff Hamilton, Mohegan Sun’s president, and general manager

Rhode Island Treads Water With Sports Betting Help

The 2020 fiscal year marked the debut of legal mobile sports betting in Rhode Island. It was added to its already popular legalized sports-books from 2018. But that one bright spot has kept Rhode Island’s Casinos from the similar despair of their surrounding competition.

Assessing New England's Casinos in the Last Week of 2020
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo,

Gov. Gina Raimondo closed the state’s two casinos, the Twin River Casino Hotel in Lincoln and the Tiverton Casino Hotel, for the first three weeks of December. The total amount transferred to the State for fiscal 2020 decreased $113.4 million compared to the year ended June 30, 2019. Before the pandemic, Twin River saw about 15,000 daily visitors. Today, it is operating under 40% capacity.

“Fringe players,” those looking at the casino for entertainment and dining opportunities, have all but disappeared.

Dealer, Twin River Casino

No Better News Up Downeast

In Maine, the Oxford Casino and Hollywood Casino Bangor revenues dropped 54.91% compared to the same time period in 2019. Maine was the fourth-worst among the states across America surveyed. It fared slightly better than Michigan, which saw a revenue decrease of 57.99%.

Maine joins the overwhelming majority of states tightening restrictions. Both Rhode Island and Maine are New England’s new pandemic “hot spots.”

Part Two

Tomorrow we consider some ways that New England’s Casinos may increase visitation and revenue. Employees need Jobs, but without guests, the need for more staff is low. The reinstatement of live poker rooms may help bring an additional clientele not seen in months. Offers and Promotions must be improved to increase confidence and visitation during COVID.

It will be a long climb out these dark casino days in New England. But the jury is out, and the verdict is “the pandemic is to blame; COVID -19 did it.


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