The Plainridge casino in Plainville opened to much fanfare last June. There was a buzz in the air that the slots and video gaming only casino would help bring in a new golden age of legalized gambling in Massachusetts. A half a year later, Plainridge’s revenues have continued to dwindle, putting the casino’s future into question. Despite the casino’s performance, Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chair Steve Crosby says there is no need to panic.
It’s probably too soon to get terribly concerned about it because this is a very small part of the casino business in Massachusetts, it’s only been going for six months. So, some people want to draw conclusions particularly people who don’t like casinos. I think this is an unwise reaction,” Crosby said on Boston Public Radio Thursday.
When the casino opened, the Massachusetts state budget office estimated Plainridge would take in around $280 million annually. That number has now been lowered to $160 million. Additionally, the estimated tax revenue the casino would create has gone down from $128 million annually to $78 million.
“It is underperforming, period. There is no question about it. It’s underperforming by what our experts thought, it’s underperforming by what their experts thought, and that’s too bad; and we really don’t know why,” Crosby said.
Some critics attribute Plainridge’s disappointing performance to its vicinity to Twin River, Mohegan Sun, and Foxwoods. Twin River is 18 plus, and all three have table games and supply smoking sections. Plainridge can not legally offer any of these amenities. “It is a tremendous competitive disadvantage,” Crosby said.
Even though the casino is not making as much money as it was estimated to make, Crosby believes Plainridge has a lot offer. “It still is making a lot of money. It does employ 500 people, a 112 of whom were unemployed when they were hired. There are a lot of benefits notwithstanding the fact that we would like it to be better,” Crosby said.
Steve Crosby is the chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Listen to his interview with Boston Public Radio above.