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Massachusetts Casino Betting Bounces Back Post-Holidays

Revenue at the three Massachusetts casinos reverted closer to average levels in January, with Encore Boston Harbor coming down from its record high revenue in December, and both MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino rebounding from record low revenues that closed out 2019.

Tax collectors will see about $21.73 million flow into state accounts from the approximately $80 million in revenue the two casinos and the slots parlor cumulatively generated in January, with more than half of it coming from the seven-month-old Encore casino in Everett, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced Tuesday.

Encore reported $48.57 million in gross gaming revenue last month, split almost evenly between table-game revenue and money collected through the casino's slots machines. January's overall revenue at the Everett casino represented a 10% decline from the record $54.01 million in gross gaming revenue collected in December, despite gamblers putting more than $30 million more into the casino's slot machines in January.

MGM Springfield reported $20.6 million in gross gaming revenue in January, with nearly three-quarters of the revenue coming from the Springfield casino's slot machines. January's revenue represented an increase of 8.7% over the historically low revenue results reported in December and an increase of 4.59% over January 2019.

For both Encore and MGM Springfield, January revenues came in just slightly below their monthly averages. Since its first full month of operation in September 2018, MGM Springfield has averaged about $21.48 million in monthly revenue. Since Encore's first full month, July 2019, the Everett gambling hall has averaged $49.39 million in monthly revenue.

At Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, monthly revenue rebounded (PDF) from a record low in December to climb 8.6% to a total of $11.08 million in January. Gamblers put $145.3 million into the Plainridge slot machines, and the facility returned 92.37% of that to players as winnings.

Despite the rebound from December's lows, Plainridge's January 2020 revenues represent a decline of about 10.47% from the facility's January 2019 revenues and the slots parlor has not broken the $12 million monthly revenue mark since August 2019. January was below average for the slots parlor: since July 2015, its first full month open, Plainridge Park has brought in an average of $13.39 million in monthly revenue.

State government can expect to collect about $12.14 million in taxes from Encore Boston Harbor and another $5.15 million in taxes from MGM Springfield. Combined, the two full-scale casinos generated about $17.3 million in tax revenue for the state last month. The two full-scale casinos in Massachusetts are taxed at a rate of 25% of their gross gaming revenue.

The state is also entitled to more than $4.43 million of Plainridge's January revenue in the form of taxes intended for local aid and another roughly $998,000 for the Race Horse Development Fund. That works out to a total tax or assessment hit of just more than $5.43 million last month, according to the Gaming Commission.

Plainridge runs harness racing, which is scheduled to resume in April, and is currently the only track left in Massachusetts that offers horse racing of any type. Plainridge is taxed on 49% of its gross gaming revenue, with 82% of the levy going to local aid and 18% to a fund set up with the goal of supporting horse racing.

Massachusetts has collected a cumulative $547 million in taxes and assessments from the three gaming facilities that have opened under the 2011 expanded gaming law, the Gaming Commission said.

In the fiscal year 2021 budget proposal (H 2) he filed last month, Governor Charlie Baker counted on about $283 million in tax revenue from gaming. The governor's reliance on gaming revenue was about $11 million, or 3.75%, less than the gaming revenue total of $294 million assumed in the current budget, suggesting the Baker administration doesn't quite buy into casino operators' pledges that their underperforming facilities are still ramping up.

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