Massachusetts casinos set a lofty standard for revenue in March but have not seen that level return in the months since then.
And with the wait for sports betting in Massachusetts ongoing, the state’s three commercial casinos are still the best bet for gaming action.
Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville combined for $762.7 million in handle for May. That was down 3.5% from the $792.7 million in April and off by almost $60 million from the record $821.7 million recorded in March.
The revenue also fell 8.3% in a month-over-month comparison, from $99.2 million in April to $90.9 million in May. Just like with handle, Massachusetts sets its state record for casino revenue in March at $102.1 million.
Year-Over-Year Comparisons Strong
One bit of good news for Massachusetts gaming interests was that the year-over-year comparisons to May 2021 were flattering.
The May handle was up 5.2% from 12 months earlier, when it was $724.9 million. And revenue rose 4.9%, from $86,675,944 in May 2021 to $90,916,445 last month, according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
And if patterns from 2021 hold up, the summer might lead to surging handle and revenue figures for the state’s trio of casinos. In July 2021 Massachusetts had a record $807.9 million in wagers taken and $95.7 million in revenue, both records at the time. That handle mark stood until March 2022.
Breakdown of Massachusetts Casino Numbers
As has been the case ever since the facility opened in summer 2019, Encore Boston Harbor easily led the state in handle and revenue.
Encore had $401.8 million in handle for May, its third consecutive month clearing $400 million. And the revenue came to just over $58 million, with $32.6 million of the gross gaming revenue (GGR) from slot machines and $25.4 million from table games.
MGM Springfield, the other casino in the state offering table games, had $193.7 million in total wagers and $21.15 million in revenue ($17.1 million in slots and $4 million at table games).
Plainridge Park, which only offers slots, had $166.8 million in handle and $11.7 million of revenue. That facility pays 49% in total taxes, coming to $5.75 million for May. The other two casinos pay 25% to the state in taxes.
Sports Betting Latest in Bay State
The possibility of a legal, regulated sports betting market is an exciting prospect in one of the nation’s most sports-crazy states.
Whether it will happen any time soon is another matter.
This month, a six-person panel designed to hammer out a deal to make sports wagering legal in Massachusetts started to meet. The panel contains three members of the state House and three from the state Senate. The two legislative bodies have each passed sports betting proposals, but they vastly differ. The sides need to work out a deal before the legislature can pass a final bill onto Gov. Charlie Baker, a known proponent of legal sports betting.
The House bill would allow betting on college sports and would establish tax rates of 12.5% for retail wagers and 15% for online sportsbooks. The Senate version has rates of 20% and 35%, respectively – but perhaps the bigger issue is that the Senate bill would not allow wagers on college events. Since that’s a yes or no question (rather than perhaps meeting in the middle on tax rates) it could be a major stumbling block.
New Jersey came up with a solution; it allows wagering on college sports but not on in-state colleges or college events taking place in New Jersey. Even if Massachusetts comes up with a similar compromise, there are still more issues between the two bills, such as limits on the number of operators and whether credit card use would be allowed for wagers.
So while the Boston Celtics play in the NBA Finals, an event that would be a massive wagering opportunity for the state, the lawmakers continue to race against the clock before a July 31 deadline.