Slot machine revenue at Connecticut’s casinos has declined steadily over the last fiscal year as stiffer competition from nearby states such as Rhode Island and New Hampshire have ramped up legal sports betting options in their casinos.
"The declining slot revenues are a reflection of increased competition in the region," said David Bednarz, a spokesperson for the governor’s office. "The administration remains committed to exploring realistic opportunities to increase gaming revenue for the state while at the same time leveraging potential gaming expansion in ways that will foster and complement a broader and more comprehensive economic development strategy."
Connecticut’s revenue for slot machines was down to $255.2 million during the last fiscal year, which ended June 30. That slide marked a 6% drop from the previous reporting period and continues the state’s downward trend in terms of slot machine revenue per year. The number has dropped steadily since 2007 when the state took in $430.5 million.
A calendar year view of the same data is almost as dismal. In that case, state revenue from slot machines has declined every year since 2006 when it totaled $433.6 million, with the exception of a slight respite in 2017 when it grew from $263.4 million the previous year to $268.7 million in the next.
At the halfway point of this year, 2019 also seems to be on its way toward another decline. Total slot revenue is currently reported at $122.4 million, less than half of last year’s $263.7 million.
State budget officials anticipate revenue falling to $221 million by next year as casinos in nearby states such as Massachusetts continue expansion. In Massachusetts, MGM Springfield opened in August 2018 and the Encore Boston Harbor opened last month. Rhode Island and New Hampshire might also be pulling from Connecticut’s betting pool because each recently passed legal sport betting bills.
Opinions are divided in Connecticut about how to stem the tide. Some believe the solution is as simple as opening more casinos. Others see full-scale sports betting as the answer.
Connecticut’s two longstanding casinos are Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun, both run by Native American tribes who also believe they have exclusivity rights when it comes to sports betting in the state.
According to the Hartford Courant, the tribes hope to reach a deal that would allow sports betting at both casinos as well as online in the near future. Additionally, the tribes would like to open a third casino that would be jointly run in East Windsor.
Moreover, even a fourth casino in Bridgeport has been floated as an idea which might help bring in more revenue.