As reported By Nora Flaherty of HarnessLink Gamblers in Maine spent nearly $54.6 million on slots and table games at the state’s two casinos last year.
Those numbers are from the Gambling Control Board’s annual report out this month. The report also finds that while Oxford Casino made about $2 million more in 2017 than in 2016, Hollywood Casino made about $900,000 less than the year before.
I feel there are many reasons for the disparaging revenue statistics, but the main reason is location, location, location!
Bangor is a quaint DownEast city in south-central Maine. So, what are the things that might make it a destination?
- Some say they have the best shopping in Maine with the Bangor Mall, which is so popular that people from all over North America, including Canada, shop there. It has spawned several motels just to service the customers. However, all those hotels don’t seem to have spilled over into stay-cations including the Hollywood Casino. Besides, doesn’t the Outlet Madness area of Kittery entice people from all over New England?
- Downtown is a great place to eat, enjoy some night life, and enjoy free concerts and movies. The beer selections, with the increase of craft brewers such as Geaghan Brothers Brewing next to the casino, Masons Brewing, Black Canvas Brewing and Maniacal Brewing are all great additions to SeaDog Brewing right in the Bangor area.
- Darlings Waterfront Pavilion has excellent open-air entertainment in the summer, just a brief walk from the casino.
- The Penobscot River Walkway is an excellent walking, biking, or running trail that starts in the back of the casino.
But this just isn’t enough it seems. Milton Champion is the executive director of the Gambling Control Board says both casinos made some changes this year. “Oxford Casino added their hotel, and with that hotel addition they’ve also added some gaming floor,” Champion says. “On Hollywood’s side, they’ve actually taken away.”
Hollywood just isn’t close enough to draw from other cities. The driving distance adds to location problems:
- Portland, Maine – 1 1/2+ hours
- Berlin, New Hampshire – 2 hours+
- Quebec, Canada – 3 hours
- Montpelier, Vermont – 3 hours+
- Boston, MA – 3 hours+
But gamblers have made their way to CT casinos driving longer distances?
Yes, but the end product is quite different. Number of better gaming tables, better video poker, better amenities….the list goes on…will entice people. Bangor and the Hollywood casino isn’t that enticing.
Oxford on the other hand seems like the little engine that could. Additions along the way – better infrastructure, added hotel (with another new Hampton Inn across the street) a new dining option in the OX Pub, and closer proximity to the cities cited above makes their growth in revenue understandable.
According to Nora Flaherty’s report, “Of the money they took in, Oxford and Hollywood casinos sent $18 million back to the state to use for K-12 education; $5.9 million to the University of Maine system, the state’s community college system, and Maine Maritime Academy; $8.9 million went to the general fund; and $4.4 million went to harness racing purses. That’s among many beneficiaries, including the agricultural fair support fund, which got $1.8 million.
Every Summer, NETG drives up to check out both casinos. It’s always a fun and relaxing trip, and we have more to check on besides the casinos. Something to look forward to.