Massachusetts Casinos Compared

Analysis, Suggestions & Updates

We often invite guests to publish an article for NETG. Before the pandemic arrived, my friend and colleague, Monika Wahi, was contacted. Massachusetts Casinos Compared – Monika Wahi wrote an analysis & Suggestions of DethWench Professional Services.

Late in 2019, when Massachusetts casinos were still a new phenomenon, Monika began checking the casinos’ data, which she found before the pandemic wreaked havoc on the casino industry. She includes outstanding graphics below to show the comparisons of the three casinos. Please note – This was updated on February 13, 2020, when casinos were still open. Monika wanted to add the following intro to this updated post:

I run a company that does extensive data analytics management and education coaching. When learners are trying to apply their programming skills in data analytics, educators like me often have them do “portfolio projects” in the topic to practice answering a business question. To demonstrate how to cross topical fields, I – an epidemiologist and NE casino fan – took public casino data, analyzed it, wrote it up into an example portfolio project, put it on my website, and – of course – told Binbin about it!

Thanks to Binbin for bringing it back. It’s probably time to update this example portfolio project. If you are interested in data analytics and want to help with an update (and hopefully an expansion), please get in touch with me, and we’ll see what we can do! The pandemic changed everything on the NE casino landscape, so who knows what we will find? Have an excellent (and lucky!) day!

We Were Surprised by What We Found – Massachusetts Casinos Compared

My colleague Josie Haywood, President of Wiseiye, Inc., a data science company in the fintech space, alerted me to the overtures to minority- and women-owned small businesses, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). n November 14, 2019, the MGC held a meeting specifically to encourage minority- and women-owned businesses to serve as vendors for these casinos. At the meeting, contacts from the casino organizations themselves and representatives from the casinos’ surrounding communities were presented and were available for introductions.

First, they talked about the three Massachusetts casinos. Then, they described the joint priorities of the casinos and the MGC. Of course, Josie and I became very inspired by what they said. So, we started dreaming of analyzing casino data and doing casino market research surveys and focus groups.

Consequently, we wrote a white paper using publicly-available data on Massachusetts casinos. We hoped that this will encourage Massachusetts casinos to contract with us for more in-depth data science and business analysis.

Monika M. Wahi, DethWench Professional Services (DPS)

Please watch her video entitled “How Do Massachusetts Casinos Compare?


Three casinos in Massachusetts:

  • Plainridge Park Casino (PPC): This is the first casino with slot machines opened in Massachusetts after the expanded gaming law passed in June of 2015. Plainridge Park Casino, located about 45 minutes by car from Boston, is actually a converted horse track. But there is still the betting area for parimutuel betting. In addition to being the oldest of Massachusetts casinos, Plainridge Park Casino is the smallest and has only slots for gaming. It has no table games and no hotel on site.
  • MGM Springfield (MGM): MGM Springfield, the second casino founded in Massachusetts, opened in August of 2018 in downtown Springfield with much fanfare. Springfield is in western Massachusetts, a strategic location to compete with the Connecticut and Rhode Island casinos. While Springfield had fallen on hard economic times, the idea of a downtown casino was a way to reinvigorate western Massachusetts.
  • Encore Boston Harbor (EBH): Encore Boston Harbor is the result of an interesting project that aims to enhance the economics and social activities of a community while cleaning up a contaminated industrial site. MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino are integrated with local communities. However, Encore Boston Harbor is on a previously industrial site, offset from the local community. Unlike the other two casinos, Encore Boston Harbor in Everette was designed to be a flashy destination casino and hotel, like the flagship hotels from Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas and Macao. EBH is located in the close Boston suburb of Everett, which is easily accessible by public transportation. Because it opened in June of 2019, as of this writing, it has a short history.

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MGC and Casino Priorities

At the meeting, representatives of the casinos and the local communities presented together with the following shared priorities:

  1. To have each casino serve as a high-quality gaming destination. They made it clear that gaming is not the main attraction at these casinos. Rather, gaming can draw in groups of people who include some gamblers, and the rest of the party can enjoy other activities. Nevertheless, using gaming as an attraction to the out-of-state customer who wants to be staying for a few days at a resort is a reasonable marketing message.
  2. To have each casino serve as a high-quality community entertainment destination. As opposed to their approach to gaming entertainment, the casinos made it clear that they are not looking to become out-of-state tourist destinations for non-gaming. This makes sense when you think of the outlet malls and Foxborough stadium near Plainridge Park Casino. It is the same for the music and sports venues near MGM Springfield and the multitude of attractions in Boston near EBH. Instead, the casinos envisioned their non-gaming entertainment as being aimed at attracting locals.  Repeat restaurant, spa, or short-stay hotel customers, or participants in local events was the intention.

Visual Comparisons Using Data Massachusetts Casinos Compared

Suppose you are like me and regularly visit Massachusetts casinos, or you are thinking of taking a vacation to visit Massachusetts casinos. In that case, you might benefit from these comparison infographics I made to target the perfect casino for your desires.

Do you like a casino that’s been around for a while?

Then Plainridge Park is your pick. However, if you prefer one that just opened, Encore Boston Harbor is a win for you.

Massachusetts Casinos Compared - Analysis & Suggestions
Infographic of Number of Months Open for Massachusetts Casinos from publicly available data. Updates in 2022 would be Plainridge Park open 7 years in June 2022, MGM Springfield – 4 years in August of 2022, and EBH – 3 Years in June of 2022.

Want a big gaming floor?

Then pick MGM Springfield. Want a super huge gaming floor? Then pick Encore Boston Harbor.

Infographic of Gaming Floor Square Feet for Massachusetts Casinos based on publicly-available data
Both have experienced changing the casino floor landscapes. The actual square footage is still the same.

Are slot machines your thing?

Then visit either MGM Springfield or Encore Boston Harbor. They both have over twice as many slot machines as Plainridge Park. NETG note – since the writing of this post, MGM Springfield has taken out over 400 slots to make the casino floor feel more spacious).

Massachusetts Casinos Compared - Analysis & Suggestions
Here is an Infographic of the Number of Slot Machines for Massachusetts Casinos based on publicly-available data. At this time, in 2022, it is almost impossible to know how many slots are on the casino floor for all three casinos.

Prefer playing the tables?

Unlike MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, Plainridge Park Casino does not have tables or hotel rooms. Our best bet is Encore Boston Harbor, which has over twice as many tables as MGM Springfield. All three have stadium gaming that includes Blackjack, Roulette, and Baccarat.

Infographic of Number of Table Games for Massachusetts Casinos based on publicly available data.
Table Games for Massachusetts Casinos based on publicly available data. In 2022, this is a tricky one. both EBH and MGM may have the same number of tables, but using them all even on a busy weekend night is not probable. MGM Springfield has taken out certain table games to make more room and player spacing.

Love the casino hotel rooms?

If you are like me, you are a massive fan of the glamorous hotel rooms in casinos. So if that’s what you like, you have almost three times as many rooms to choose from at Encore Boston Harbor as MGM Springfield.

Massachusetts Casinos Compared - Analysis & Suggestions
Infographic of Number of Hotel Rooms for Massachusetts Casinos based on publicly-available data

But quantity is not quality. Just because a casino may have more slots, tables, or hotel rooms doesn’t mean they necessarily have the ones the customer wants.

Monika M. Wahi, DethWench Professional Services (DPS)

Data Sources We Used about Massachusetts Casinos

That’s why we did a more in-depth analysis of Massachusetts casino data. We used the following data sources:

Results We Found from Massachusetts Casino Data

Here is a summary of what we found:

  • Massachusetts does not perform as well in attracting casino revenue as several other states of the same population size.
  • Gross gaming revenue (GGR) per slot machine and per table vary widely between the three Massachusetts casinos. This suggests that some slot machines and tables are more “efficient” than others.
  • The payout percent for Massachusetts casinos is low, making them vulnerable to competition from out-of-state casinos and online casinos.
Massachusetts Casinos Compared - Analysis & Suggestions
Time Series Plot of Payout Percent for Massachusetts Casinos from publicly available data. In 2022, revenue has increased to close or even passed the above data. This is an area that should be redone in the future.

Related Posts – What’s the Trouble With Massachusetts Casino Revenue?

As you can see, in all periods and at all casinos, payout percent hovers between 90% and 95%. The shaded area of the chart shows the payout percentage for typical online casinos. This shows that slot players choosing between online slots and land-based casino slots are likely to opt for staying home and playing online, seeing this meager payout percent.

I’m also thinking about the choices we have as casino customers. People from New England can visit casinos in CT, RI, MA, and ME. Why not go to where there’s the best payout percentage?

Monika M. Wahi, DethWench Professional Services (DPS)

Payout percent is a significant weakness in the performance of Massachusetts casinos. Here are the six recommendations we make in our white paper:

Six Recommendations from Our Analysis of Massachusetts Casino Data

  1. Improve the efficiency of slots and tables at all casinos
  2. Better meet the demand for non-gaming activities.
  3. Improve slot payout percent to remain competitive
  4. Have the MGC clarify community vs. gaming priorities
  5. Present MGC annual reports in a single electronic location, and
  6. Develop and report non-gaming metrics (along with the current gaming-related metrics).

Want a copy of the original white paper we wrote, “How do Massachusetts Casinos Compare,” Contact Monika on LinkedIn and message me your e-mail address. She will e-mail it to you.


Image credits: Photograph of Encore Boston Harbor casino in an infographic by Sreyan Sarkar. Map of Massachusetts in the public domain is available here. Image of poker chips and cards by Victor Vic.


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Bio

Epidemiologist Monika M. Wahi, MPH, CPH, founded DethWench Professional Services (DPS) in 2004 as a part-time consulting. She provides educational and researches consulting services to professionals and graduate students in the public health and healthcare fields. I also do research consulting for organizations and develop educational materials to teach research and statistics.

Monika provides services to both individuals (grad students, professionals) and organizations (healthcare systems, colleges), and provides personalized education and consulting in data science, epidemiology, biostatistics, and informatics. With developing healthcare quality systems, she also supplies help with grant-writing efforts, research protocol development, and implementing epidemiologic research studies. Monika studies learning and develops creative evidence-based curricula for teaching data science and public health.