Massachusetts Casino Revenues Were Falling Even Before Closure Order
As expected, casino revenue plunged in Massachusetts in March, according to the latest report from state gambling regulators.
Before they were told to close on March 15 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state's two casinos and one slots parlor collected roughly $35 million in gross gaming revenue, generating $9.8 million in tax revenue for the state.
That represents nearly a 60% drop from February, when the state collected $24.3 million in gambling taxes.
A statement from the chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission noted that regulators understood that diminished tax collections would be a consequence of closing the casinos.
"The gaming commission and its licensees knew that the decision to close casinos in mid-March would have a drastic impact on monthly revenue potential and acknowledge that financial uncertainties will continue to persist for now," Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said. "However, this unprecedented situation is a public health crisis first and foremost, and taking immediate protective measures to safeguard everyone’s physical well-being was paramount to all other complex and challenging considerations.'"
MGM Springfield had entered March with some reason to be optimistic. March 2019 was the casino's best month of the year.
And after a new low in December, the numbers were trending upwards in January and February 2020.
But with coronavirus fears mounting in early March, and the eventual order to close, revenue for the month fell to $9.3 million, a 57% drop from February.
An MGM spokeswoman said the company had no comment on the revenue report.
The two other casinos in the state saw even steeper drops.
Like MGM Springfield, Plainridge was coming off a resurgence of sorts. After a really rough fall and winter, revenues climbed a bit in February to $11.7 million, but fell 59% in the shortened March, to $4.8 million.
It was worse at Encore Boston Harbor, percentage-wise. The Everett resort saw revenue drop 61% from February, pulling in $20.5 million in March.
The three gambling halls will produce no revenue — and therefore no state taxes — in April. The gaming commission has ordered the casinos shut until at least May 4, with plans to consider a further extension of the closures before that date.
State House News Service's Colin A. Young, and NEPR's Heather Brandon and Sam Hudzik, contributed to this report.