Recently, an article was circulated by many touting that “Plainridge Park Casino had ‘recaptured’ $100 million in gambling revenue from Massachusetts customers who had been going to out-of-state casinos.”
Wow! That’s monumental!……..if it were believable.
Numbers are deceiving. Surveys should not be assessed on terms of small captive sample sizes and numbers that dictate questionable generalities beyond the realm of possibility. As we see on the news, and in the paper, a survey could prove just about anything and is used to bolster one side’s thoughts against the other. Numbers can be used to lie, or at least exaggerate a point. So is the case with this latest survey.
Please Note – NETimeGambling loves Plainridge Park Casino. It’s machines are up-to-date, it’s clean, it’s smoke-less, and the staff seems friendly and hospitable. This isn’t about the casino, it’s about the misleading survey.
Gaming Commission Chairman Steve Crosby said the survey showed that the casino law was achieving its prime goal of having Massachusetts customers spend their money in state rather than going to Rhode Island or Connecticut. So, let’s look at the survey results:
WHO CONDUCTED THE SURVEY?
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who are conducting a multi-year, comprehensive study known as the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) conducted this data. They presented it to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
“Nearly 90 percent of PPC patrons had visited casinos in other states in the year before PPC opened, with the majority, 72.3 percent, having visited casinos in Connecticut and 55.9 percent in Rhode Island. The majority of PPC patrons were from Massachusetts, with 11.4 percent from Plainville or nearby towns and another 66.5 percent from other Massachusetts communities. Overall, 19.2 percent of patrons were from outside the Commonwealth.”
NETG – Studies such as this that include stats about gamblers, but not important information about gambler’s bankrolls, amount of betting, and length of sessions. Consider this statement, “19.2 percent of patrons were from outside the Commonwealth.” By itself, it seems great. But realistically, most gamblers frequent multiple casinos, especially aware gamblers. So, 1 of every 5 were from another state. That could mean one car each from CT, RI and Maine for every 15 Massachusetts patrons. (That would mean 1 out of 15 cars from CT, or only 6% from CT – see how numbers can lie!), Is this really significant? Gamblers travel – it’s a given. A similar survey should be done at Twin River, Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun for an accurate comparison. Unless the results were skewed in favor of MA, it’s a moot point. I wonder what a similar survey to turn up with cars from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New York and New Jersey at the Connecticut Tribal casinos. Lump all those states together, and I estimate you would find a higher percentage of patrons outside the Nutmeg State.
“Recaptured” patrons are Massachusetts residents who would have spent their money at an out-of-state casino and “reallocated” patrons are Massachusetts residents who would have spent their money on other goods and services in the state had PPC not opened. The research team estimates that over half of all gambling, 58.3 percent, and non-gambling, 50.4 percent, spending by Massachusetts patrons at PPC is “recaptured.”
NETG – So let me get this straight. Plainridge Park has “recaptured” over half of all gambling from other states by asking certain patrons, the majority from Massachusetts (remember the numbers for CASE #1) if they spent money on gambling that they never spent on gambling before? How is that “recaptured? – they never gambled before!
The general adult Massachusetts population, Plainridge patrons are “older, somewhat more likely to be white, more likely to have higher education and an annual household income between $50,000 and $100,000.”
NETG – I could have told you that without the survey. Older patrons with travel to closer casinos, especially with slots – that’s a demographic you will find across the country. The race and household income represents the town of Plainville. This should not be revelations to the recapturing of funds – it’s the effect of a “locals” casino, unlike a destination casino teasing away patrons from other states for it’s shows, dining, or shopping.
CASE #4 –
Rhode Island’s Twin River Casino, said two years ago that their expected revenue dip would be about 10 percent when Massachusetts opened its first slots parlor. Instead, it has seen only 5% dip.
NETG – Will the MGC admit changes in their findings at Plainridge when Tiverton opens in 2019 and the pendulum swings back? How about those who frequent Plainridge Park changing their minds and going to MGM Springfield? Will Plainridge, without table games continue to withstand competition from Twin River, Tiverton, and the biggie – Wynn Boston Harbor? Surely it will, but it shouldn’t be seen as a failure, just the process of competition. When the dust settles in 2020 on New England’s Casino landscape, that’s when success and failure, recapturing and reallocated patrons could take a serious turn INSIDE the Commonwealth, to the detriment of Plainridge Park.
The majority of those (patrons surveyed), 72.3 percent, gambled at Connecticut casinos while 55.9 percent went to Rhode Island. The majority of Plainridge patrons were from Massachusetts, with 11.4 percent from Plainville or nearby towns and another 66.5 percent from other Massachusetts communities, the survey found.
NETG – Again, gamblers travel, it’s a given. Loyalty, on the other hand, is different. The survey questions seem to benefit the answers wanted, not the questions needed. Where were these other important questions, such as:
- Where do you most frequently gamble?
- At which casino do you have the highest tier rating? (this would should amount gambled, time spent, and customer value to the casino)
- Do you visit casinos for non-gambling reasons? Entertainment? Shopping? Dining?
Finally, it is obvious so far, that more gamblers are coming out of the woodwork. Saturation is still a concern, and the effects of 10 casinos won’t be seen for a while.
THE FINAL POINT
Plainridge is a great property on its own merits. It will continue to build it’s loyalty, but a few visits by a small clientele does not a loyalty program make. Plainridge Park has shown tremendous progress, but why Massachusetts has to skew their results to show certain victories in revenue only shows rhetoric and politics at its worst.