5 Cases Against Skewed Plainridge Park Survey

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.

CASE #1

“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.

CASE #2

“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! 

CASE #3

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.”

Plainridge Casino Floor

Plainridge Casino Patrons

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.

Twin River Casino

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.

CASE #5

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.

Binbin

 

 

Referendum for Maine’s Third Casino Arriving Soon

A rendering of the proposed York County Casino, courtesy of the Portland Press Herald

According to  Scott Thistle of the Portland Press Herald, “a relatively small number of voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid and approve a casino in York County in November…..But if 2017 ends up looking anything like 2011 – the last year voters had no statewide races to decide except ballot questions on casinos – then less than half of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots.”  There is still a question whether the Pro Casino will get permission for absentee voting, and reeking havoc with the low voter turnout.

Overall voter turnout in 2011 was 43 percent, as voters decided against two casino ballot questions for Lewiston and Biddeford.

Shawn Scott, on the right, with attorney Courtesy Herald Press

It seems like the casino thing in Maine is like washing your hair – mix shampoo in hair, rinse out shampoo for clean hair, and repeat. However in Maine, they are always seemingly rinsing out the dirt from Shawn Scott & Co.

Economic experts continue to be skeptical about the York County casino bringing more than 2,000 jobs and $45 million in annual tax revenue to the area.  After all, the building of Oxford Casino included the prediction of $60 million in annual tax income, but has only produced about $32 million annually.

And then there is the referendum that is written to allow only one person, Shawn Scott, to apply for a permit to build a casino at an unspecified location in York County. Scott is an international gambling entrepreneur who won voter approval to add slot machines to Bangor’s struggling horse track in 2003. He then sold those rights to Penn National – which still operates what is now Hollywood Casino – for $51 million as regulators scrutinized his businesses and associates.  For a related articles, click on Maine’s Third Casino A Bad Bet  and Maine’s Third Casino – The Ultimate Scam Allowed by No Legislative Policy

Hollywood Casino, Bangor MaineThere are some who consider Hollywood Bangor a rousing success, and a great example of how casinos can help communities keep taxes down, create new jobs, spur tourism and economic development and generate additional funding for critical education, health care and agriculture priorities.  But, this is the same property that was asking for property assessment reduction in a dispute with the city of Bangor? The lower assessment that resulted from those talks stemmed largely from Hollywood Casino’s declining revenue since the opening of its main competitor, Oxford Casino. Rousing success?  Hollywood has had its slow times over the years.

Progress For Maine wants casino legislation

So, NETG still thinks that a third casino closer to Wynn Boston Harbor (Oxford & Hollywood are more north) will not be able to compete and will not do what the pro-casino group Progress for Maine wants.

Here’s the rundown on the vote:

Maine Question 1, the Casino or Slot Machines in York County Initiative, is on the ballot in Maine as a indirect initiated state statute on November 7, 2017.

“yes” vote supports this initiative to authorize the Maine Gambling Control Board to accept an application for a license to operate slot machines or a casino in York County, Maine.
“no” vote opposes this initiative to authorize the Maine Gambling Control Board to accept an application for a license to operate slot machines or a casino in York County, Maine.

The third casino’s window in Maine has closed. Another option for expanded gambling is needed to take the place of a full casino in southern Maine.

Binbin