After it’s first nine months, Plainridge Park is still receiving some negative marks. But just think, we could look at it as “finally out in the world, starting to grow, starting to now begin it’s gambling niche.” Let’s look at three recent concerns and one “Ace in the Hole” that Plainridge has in it’s journey toward gaming relevance in the northeast.
CONCERN #1 – CRIME & TRAFFIC
Plainridge Park came under fire last week. There have been many concerns since its opening, not all justified. While Plainridge, Massachusetts first casino in the form of slots and electronic machines only, has performed under the state’s expectations, they continue to adapt to the many changing influences around them in this ever changing gambling land in southern New England.
Last week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission came to its rescue when it was reported that since Plainridge Park opened last July, communities around Massachusetts’ first casino have seen an uptick in crimes like assault, drunken driving, kidnapping, prostitution, shoplifting and fraud. Christopher Bruce, a crime analysis expert hired by the state Gaming Commission, said a preliminary review suggests increases in traffic-related infractions like erratic driving, accidents and drunk driving as well as credit card fraud may be linked to the slots parlor and harness racing track’s opening. But increases in kidnapping, prostitution and other crimes “clearly had nothing to do” with the casino.
The MGC’s findings reported the following:
- In the first 6 months of activity, Plainridge Park produced crime and call figures commensurate with similarly-sized facilities in the region.
- Few significant increases in crimes in the surrounding area.
- Most significant increases were tied to traffic activity: complaints, collisions, disabled vehicles, suspicious vehicles.
- Major increase in credit card fraud disturbing/puzzling, but no specific evidence of Plainridge Park involvement.
- Some agencies seeing drunk driving increases, but data is inconsistent and phenomenon needs further study.
Eric Schippers, a senior vice president at Penn National Gaming, said the Pennsylvania-based company that owns Plainridge Park is “pleased and proud” the state’s first casino public safety report revealed “no significant negative impacts” as a result of casino operations.
CONCERN #2 – REVENUE
In another area of concern, slot revenues declined a bit, less than 1 percent, according to figures released Friday by the state Gaming Commission. Sean P. Murphy of the Boston Globe reported that Gambling revenue at Plainridge Park Casino remained at about the same level in March as the month before. Murphy reported “Still, the revenue picture this year is brighter than it was last year. Plainridge has averaged about $12.9 million a month in revenue from January through March. In October through December, the casino averaged almost $1 million a month less in revenue.”
It could be that the free-play offers that accounted for 20 percent of revenue in February, is a short=term, but needed fix for the spring. Plainridge has boosted it’s free-play slot offers to almost twice the level of the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos. However, most casino strategists agree that this kind of effort has diminishing returns in the long haul, saying it is unlikely to prove sustainable as seen in other casinos throughout the country.
Initial revenue projections estimated Plainridge would bring in as much as $300 million in its opening year, but the casino has fallen well short of expectations. But could it be that the early projections by the MGC is an example of a new market with unrealistic goals and a misunderstanding in the northeast’s competition?
CONCERN #3 – COMPETITION
Plainridge is restricted under state law to 1,250 slot machines and no table games, putting it at a competitive disadvantage with Twin River Casino, just 11 miles away in Lincoln, R.I. Twin River offers more than 4,000 slot machines, table games, and a 3,000-seat arena.
For a COMPLETE COMPARISON of NEW ENGLAND’S CASINOS, Click on the following post title NETimeGambling Compares & Contrasts All Seven New England Casinos
The unfortunate additional competition that the MGC did not initially see was two-fold: Tiverton’s (RI) Casino (Twin River’s relocation of Newport Grand) and the immediate ground-breaking of the Wampanoags “First Light Resort Casino” in Taunton, Massachusetts. Add to that the still possibility (although NETG thinks is remote and foolish) would be a third casino in Brockton, and you have an unenviable task to carve a piece of the gaming pie before saturation really takes hold.
THE POSITIVE, THE ACE…
So, what can Plainridge Park use to it’s advantage? Simple – Their Marquee Rewards connections to Penn National’s other casinos throughout the country, especially now with the addition of Tropicana & M Resort in Las Vegas. Through playing at Plainridge using the Marquee Rewards Card, points accrued could be used throughout the country. Imagine playing at Plainridge, but staying on the southern strip in Las Vegas for free using Marquee Rewards points.
Foxwoods, Twin River, and First Light will not have that type of expansiveness. Only Mohegan Sun has two other properties that use Mohegan Sun’s Momentum Club points – Mohegan Sun Poconos and Resorts in Atlantic City.
There’s more to this story, so much needs to be played out. But, don’t count Plainridge & Penn National out yet in Massachusetts.