Maine’s casinos set revenue records in 2018, but local competition in New England might see those numbers reduced in 2019.
The country’s stance on gambling has been shifting to a more favorable light since the 2018 repeal of PASPA, the federal ban on sports betting. In relation to New England, Boston recently saw a new casino open that could be seen as a game-change for the northeast.
The new Encore Boston Harbor casino resort is a proper centerpiece of Boston gambling. The Wynn-owned casino boasts over 3,000 slots, 144 table games, and 88 poker tables, on par with some of the largest casinos in the country.
The resort cost a eye-watering $26 billion in nearby Everett, Massachusetts, and is expected to help develop the surrounding area that was previously home to a chemical plant. The plant required a $80 million cleanup of the surrounding area to create a more desirable area for the resort.
The new casino is an hour away from the Maine border, and three hours south of the Oxford Casino, Maine’s biggest revenue casino. It’s a far cry from the Encore Boston Harbor, offering just under 1,000 slots and 28 table games. The hotel side of the Oxford Casino has 107 rooms to Encore’s 671.
Will the Encore Boston Harbor take all the customers from Maine? Probably not. Anyone living north of US Route 2 in Maine will probably go to The Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway in Maine, located in the middle of the state, or the Oxford Casino, near the New Hampshire boarder.
However, those in the southern part of Maine, and near the New Hampshire border, might be tempted to drive down to Boston and gamble at "the largest private single-phase construction project in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," according to Wynn.
With Encore opening, near the border of Maine, it’s very possible that Maine’s casinos could see a hit to their revenue streams. Neighboring states like New Hampshire, which doesn’t have any casinos of its own, could see their local gamblers drive out to Boston as well.
It was expected that Maine wouldn’t see income continue to grow like it had been, as mentioned by Milt Champion, executive director of Maine’s gambling control unit, when speaking with the Sun Journal in June:
“I don’t think we will continue to see the increases. There is only so much discretionary money, pretty soon you will see the casinos do a little bit less because sports wagering will come on board.”
However, Champion had sports betting in mind, not Encore Boston Harbor, which wouldn’t open its doors for another 11 days. The July revenue reports from all three casinos will be very interesting indeed.