NEW: MA Gamblers Account for Majority of Visits to RI Casinos
Monday, March 18, 2013
The report found that the Commonwealth's gamers made nearly 2.3 million visits to Rhode Island slot parlors last year, compared to nearly 1.1 million visits by Rhode Islanders themselves.
The survey also found that Bay Staters make more visits to Foxwoods Resort Casino than their Connecticut counterparts as well. The New England Gaming Behavior Survey revealed that gamblers from the Commonwealth made more than five million visits to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casino in 2012. At the same time, Connecticut's casinos have continued to experience big declines in year-to-year slot revenues over the last year due in large part to Massachusetts residents have significantly scaled back on the number of visits they make to casinos
"The success of Twin River, despite being located in Rhode Island, is now more dependent on Bay Staters’ spending than spending Ocean State residents," said Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis.
"While neither Rhode Island slot parlor can compete with the Connecticut casinos' range of gaming and non-gaming amenities, Twin River's closer proximity to the population-rich centers of central and eastern Massachusetts, combined with aggressive advertising and marketing campaigns, has made Twin River a favored alternative for convenience gamblers, particularly as gasoline prices have remained high and the Connecticut casinos have tightened up on their player reward programs."
With several resort casinos and a slots parlor just over the not too distant horizon in Massachusetts, the high number of Bay Staters traveling to neighboring states in Southern New England to take advantage of gaming amenities, as well as the amount of money they spend, may change dramatically.
“Where the Commonwealth ultimately sites three casinos and the slot parlor will determine whether Massachusetts is able to reassert dominance over New England's gaming, entertainment and tourism sectors by stemming the flow of Massachusetts spending into Connecticut and Rhode Island,” Barrow said.
Barrow said that many of the Bay State residents traveling to Rhode Island's slot parlors are coming from the Worcester area and Southeastern Mass., making the Heart of the Commonwealth a prime candidate for the state's sole slot parlor license.
"There are several locations, but Worcester's certainly an excellent location," he said.
However, Barrow was quick to point out that a slot parlor in Central Mass would not necessarily spell doom for its neighbors to the south. Mass. has limited the slot parlor license to 1,250 slot machines, whereas Twin River boasts 4,750 slots.
"Even a slot parlor at full capacity won't even capture half of the Massachusetts residents going to Twin River," Barrow said.
Meanwhile, the new survey from UMass-Dartmouth has highlighted the increased importance of the slot parlor license, not only because it will be issued first and up and running before the state's resort casinos, but also because of the larger recessionary trends in the economy leading more people to take cost-conscious "stay-cations" rather than travel far afield.
Barrow said gamblers have shown similar patterns, making nearby slot parlors more attractive destinations than more distant, and potentially more costly, full resort-style casinos.
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