GM Springfield isn’t drawing as many gamblers or their dollars away from two Connecticut casinos as that state once feared.
Connecticut budget planners had expected a 25-percent drop in slot revenues from Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino due to MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor. Now, they forecast a much smaller hit of 9.2 percent.
“What has happened in reality is that Encore has been a little bit delayed. And when MGM came on board, we are still experiencing a decline, it’s just not as severe as we thought,” said Chris McClure, a spokesman for the Connecticut Office and Policy and Management in Hartford, on Tuesday. “I’m not sure we can accurately place where the variable are.”
The conclusions are bolstered by lagging gaming revenue at the nearly $1 billion MGM Springfield, which has failed to meet its own projections. It had forecast $418 million in annual gross gaming revenue in its first year, or $34.8 million per month. Instead, it has grossed less than $23 million in each of the past three months.
Further, MGM Springfield has not impacted entertainment or trades shows at the Connecticut casinos as the Las Vegas giant had once promised.
Connecticut now expects, according to estimates released Jan. 15, to receive $248.6 million in Indian Gaming Revenue from the two casinos in the current fiscal year ending June 30. That estimate — based on a 25-percent share of casino slots revenue — is up 11.6 percent from the $223.6 million Connecticut officials estimated back in November, McClure said.
The budget offices of both the Connecticut legislature and of former Gov. Dannel Malloy and newly sworn-in Gov. Ned Lamont have been planning for years for the impact of expanded gambling in Massachusetts.
The legislature and governor’s administrations in Connecticut update revenue estimates three times a year.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission issued its monthly report on gaming revenues on Tuesday, saying the MGM Springfield casino project generated nearly $21.6 million reflecting an increase of $335,311 over November's amount.
The two tribes have also shown concern about competition from Massachusetts. They have proposed a casino in East Windsor at the site of an old movie theater off Interstate 91 -just 13 miles south of downtown Springfield- but those plans have stalled because the federal government won't give permission for the tribes to expand there.
Slot revenue in Connecticut has been on the decline for more than a decade as more casinos open in the Northeast and consumer spending habits change.
Slot revenues are off 7.1 percent at Foxwoods and 6.7 percent at Mohegan Sun since September, the month after MGM Springfield’s grand opening, according to statistics kept by Connecticut.
But the two Connecticut casinos say MGM Springfield has not hurt attendance at trade shows and concerts, and noted its lackluster entertainment offerings.
“Other than their splash at opening, (MGM Springfield ) haven’t done a lot of entertainment,” stated Foxwoods Interim CEO Rodney Butler. “That might be contributing to their lack of performance on the gaming revenue side.”
Foxwoods' hotel occupancy rate stands at 90 percent and ticket sales have been stable at Foxwoods' 4,000-seat Grand Theater, he said.
The monthly report released by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission listed the total gaming revenue for the MGM Springfield casino as $21,583,225.04, consisting of $14,255,518.22 from slot machines, and $7,327,706.82, from table games.
Total gaming revenue in November was $21,247,914.09, which had declined from $22,242,742.41 in October.
Michael Mathis, president and chief operating officer of MGM Springfield, had little in the way of specifics to offer in a prepared statement given in response to questions about revenue and MGM Springfield’s ability to draw from Connecticut and compete in a regional marketplace.
“We’ve had an extraordinary response to the opening of our resort and bringing the first integrated luxury resort and entertainment destination to New England,” the statement reads. "We had a tremendously successful opening week, welcoming more than 150,000 visitors over our first weekend alone. We continue to grow the market with solid visitor volumes throughout our resort. We are pleased our efforts to design a resort that complements Downtown Springfield is being so enthusiastically received by the region. Our casino, hotel and restaurants continue to reflect impressive numbers of guests eager to experience what our new resort has to offer. Visitors from across the region are responding well to the breadth of our overall entertainment strategy and dynamic programming. We remain grateful for the ongoing support of the Springfield community and entire New England region. We look forward to welcoming many more visitors in 2019.”