April 13, 2012
BOSTON — As Massachusetts starts the process to build casinos, it appears that residents are not waiting to gamble. They increased their spending by 6 percent last year in casinos and slot parlors in the neighboring New England states.
According to a survey released April 11 by the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Bay State residents made more than 7.1 million visits and spent nearly $909 million in Connecticut's resort casinos and at slot parlors in Rhode Island and Maine.
The study also shows that for the first time, people from Massachusetts visited and spent more at Rhode Island’s two slot parlors than Rhode Island’s own residents. Bay State residents made 2 million visits to Twin River Casino and Newport Grand Slots, spending an estimated $284 million, which is a 7 percent increase over 2010 spending levels.
Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis, said two factors are behind this surprise finding.
“I think the dominant factors are that Twin River has consciously marketed themselves to Massachusetts residents in central and southeastern Massachusetts and were successful," he said. “And the second factor is that I think more people are stopping at Twin River because of higher gas prices and they’re staying closer to home.”
Barrow also said that with unemployment continuing to decline, private payrolls growing, and home prices stabilizing, it is likely that 2012 will mark the beginning of a recovery in the region’s gaming market. That bodes well for casinos being considered in Massachusetts.
“The fact that we’re seeing Massachusetts residents again increase their spending, I think, suggests that by the time we open gaming venues in this state, they’ll be opening right into the thrust of the economic recovery in the next couple of years,” he said.
Since the center began publishing its annual New England Casino Gaming Update in 2004, Massachusetts residents have spent over $8.7 billion at the region's casinos and slot parlors and directly generated over $2 billion in tax revenues to Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine state governments.
> > READ: The complete survey findings (pdf)