The next new casino to appear in the southeastern New England area is at least two years away. Let’s stop picking on Plainridge Park Casino.
I mean, really, at least Plainridge is open. Let’s check the scene so far:
- Wynn has momentarily stopped,
- MGM Springfield is too far away to impact it,
- Twin River continues to be stable, feeling only a dent in revenue from Plainridge
- Twin River’s hotel is still a dream
- Focus for CT’s third casino seems to be slowing down
- Newport Grand’s move to Tiverton is still in pre-approval stages, and
- the Mashpee’s First Light Resort broke ground, but if the litigation process gets started, it could come to a screeching halt and stay that way for years!
So, why are so many scrutinizing Penn National’s moves and marketing at their Plainville, Massachusetts Casino? Seems like Massachusetts needs to put their support behind Plainridge at this part of their casino expansion.
Business at the Plainville slot parlor surged in January and February, stirring hopes for a spring rebound.
Machines have been changed, promotions have been added to multiples days every month, and entertainment continues with a variety to find the right formula. Matter of fact, that’s what casinos do – they change what doesn’t work, try other things, and look for the winning formula that keeps people coming back – whether your name is Penn National, Wynn or Murren.
That turnaround, however, might have been something of a mirage. A close look at the casino’s monthly revenue reports shows the increase was fueled by a hefty dose of promotional giveaways, millions of dollars in “free play” credits handed out to entice gamblers. But, the amount of free play awarded by American casinos has climbed consistently since 2000, especially in the for of free slot credits.
Typically, free play is loaded onto a customer’s players club card; the player converts it to game credits by inserting the card into a slot machine. Players can’t cash out the free play itself; they may cash out any winnings from it.
Jeffrey Compton, executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports, says “astute casinos have specific reasons for their mailed free-play offers. [They] don’t send it out, because customers earned it……[they] send it out with a goal in mind.” Mostly the goal is to get gamblers into the casino, expecting them to then play more of their own money. Is it a marketing ploy? Yes – just like 2-for-1 hot dogs at the ball park.
But excessive free slot awards can also be a bad marketing gamble. “If you give too much free play, it reduces the share of the wallet you’re going to get from a customer,” because players budget both time and money for a casino visit” says Andrew Klebanow, a principal with Gaming Market Advisors, a gaming research and consulting firm in Las Vegas.
So what is all the fuss? Shouldn’t Penn National try everything they can to carve out their own piece of the pie?
May I remind you all that Penn National has many casinos, including Hollywood in Bangor , Maine. Two jewels of Penn National that will be available are M Resort and the Tropicana, both on the south Las Vegas Strip. Both properties are good ones, and playing at Plainridge or in Bangor means connections to Vegas – something Twin River, Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods or the Mashpees can’t bring to the party!
So, lay off! Give them time and enjoy the free play handed out – it may not last.