New Study Tracks Casino Patronage By Mass. Residents
By: Michael C. Bailey
Despite the down economy, Massachusetts residents continue to trek to Connecticut to spend their money – hundreds of millions of dollars per year -- at the Nutmeg State’s two resort casinos.
“Playing the Odds II” is the sequel to the April 2009 report that examined why Massachusetts residents supported expanded casino gaming in their state. Prepared by the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth, the new report found that Massachusetts gamblers in 2008 made more than six million visits to Connecticut’s Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos.
Residents also made about one million visits to gaming establishments in Rhode Island and Maine, which allow limited casino-style gaming.
The demographic analysis of those gamblers showed that a typical Massachusetts visitor to Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods is in or around their 40s. A typical slot machine player is a woman age 40 or older, with an annual household income of $25,000 to $75,000, while a typical table games (poker, blackjack, etc.) player is a male age 40 or younger, with an annual household income of $75,000 or more.
The full report may be viewed online at www.umassd.edu/seppce/policyanalysis/index.html
The report’s release preceded by one day a hearing at the State House on a resurrected proposal to expand gaming in Massachusetts. Clyde W. Barrow, Ph.D., director of the CPA at UMass – Dartmouth, spoke at that hearing, reiterating many points raised in his two studies.
The committee hosted last week’s hearing on a new version of a once-dead bill seeking to establish casino gaming in Massachusetts. Governor Deval L. Patrick filed in October 2007 filed the original bill, which proposed auctioning off state licenses to develop and operate three resort-class casinos, with the revenue collected from the casinos to go toward transportation infrastructure projects and property tax relief initiatives.
In his early pitches for the bill, Gov. Patrick predicted the casinos would generate tens of thousands of short-term construction and long-term service jobs, and millions in new revenue. Critics of the idea maintain that job creation and revenue generation figures are inflated to paint casino gaming in a more positive light.
Public sentiment also seems to be swinging in favor of casinos. The CPA’s first “Playing the Odds” report (www.umassd.edu/seppce/policyanalysis/docs/odds_1.pdf) indicated that 57.4 percent of residents surveyed supported the creation of casinos in Massachusetts, 31.4 percent opposed the idea, and the rest were undecided.
Notably, the Cape and Islands region was the only region in which opposition outweighed support: 45.6 percent of residents opposed casinos, 38.2 percent supported them.
The three top benefits supporters saw in casino gaming, according to the report: job creation, tax revenue generation, and recapturing gaming revenue now going to out-of-state venues. On that last point, it is estimated that Massachusetts residents spend about $900 million a year at gaming establishments in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Do you support casinos in Massachusetts? Let us know your thoughts!
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