Connecticut’s two casinos are reporting double-digit drops in slot revenues in July as compared to the same month a year ago. Foxwoods’ take from slots last month was $50 million, a 15% decline. And Mohegan Sun reported taking in $59.9 million, down 10% from a year ago. One industry expert says the latest figures continue a downward slide in slot revenues at the casinos since 2006. Clyde Barrow is director of the Center for Policy Research at UMass-Dartmouth, which tracks the gambling industry. He says the latest revenue numbers from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun should be cause for concern because other such venues around the country are seeing revenue increases. He says the revenue drop is partly due to a continuing weak economy in the Northeast.
“While you might think that in the summer people would go gamble more, take trips, we’re still in that period of time where people are doing the so-called “staycations” rather than vacations. And that’s hitting the resorts particularly hard, where people are really staying close to home.”
Barrow says increasing competition from neighboring states’ casinos, like Twin Rivers in Rhode Island and Aqueduct raceway in New York, are also impacting Connecticut’s casino revenues. And he says he expects those revenues will continue to erode once casinos in Massachusetts are up and running. About a third of patrons at Foxwoods and a fifth of all visitors to Mohegan Sun are from the Baystate. Barrow says his center’s latest survey predicts two-thirds of those visitors will switch their loyalties to gamble in Massachusetts, presenting Connecticut casino operators with a major challenge.
“They can still be profitable facilities, but I think they really have to restructure and rethink their status as regional destinations. I mean they are two ways they can go. One is that they could downsize and be smaller but still very profitable casinos. The other direction, which is where I think they’re headed, is to try to become an international destination, to really position themselves as something bigger than New England and bigger than the Northeast.”