Restrictions Key in Massachusetts Casinos November Decline

Restrictions Key in Massachusetts Casinos November Decline
By Jim Tomlin

The news on the COVID-19 front has not been good lately in Massachusetts and, in large part, that has led to bad news for the bottom line at state’s three commercial casinos as well.

The state’s mixed showing in the October numbers at those casinos gave way to a dramatic decline in November.

Total combined revenue in November at the state’s three commercial casinos — Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park — was $45,446,350, a 33.9% drop from the $68,730,458 of combined revenue in October.

Increased Coronavirus Cases in Massachusetts

Massachusetts casinos have felt the pinch in the wake of the state’s restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, according to a report on the website. Casinos are operating at reduced capacity and operating hours — for instance, MGM Springfield is open from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily and has about a third of its slots and tables operating, the report said.

State officials confirmed 3,720 COVID-19 cases and 55 deaths in the state just on Tuesday, another report said.

The combined handle at the three casinos last month was down by a similar percentage, 32.5%. The state’s handle was $606,392,976 in October but $409,278,194 in November.

All three casinos were shut down from mid March, when the spread of coronavirus forced casinos all over the country to halt operations, until July. In the previous few months, revenues had made a strong recovery; not quite to late 2019 levels but not far off considering the state’s capacity restrictions.

Encore Boston Harbor had $27.35 million in revenue for November, the casino’s worst full month since it opened in June 2019. MGM Springfield’s $10.5 million in November revenue was lower than July, when it was only open for part of the month. It was a similar story at Plainridge Park, with about $7.6 million in November revenue.

Plainridge Park, which has slots only, had $107.7 million for its coin in (or handle) in November. That was the lowest take in the casino’s history since it opened in June 2015, again excluding partial months such as March and July 2020.

All three casinos would certainly benefit from Massachusetts sports betting being legalized. The idea has gained the backing of the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics and New England Revolution among other sports entities in the area. In November, the state Senate passed a budget without including sports betting, so 2021 seems more likely if such a proposal is to get through the Massachusetts legislature.



Jim Tomlin has more than 30 years of experience in sports journalism as an editor and writer. He has covered pro and college sports from football, baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, motorsports and more for publications such as the Tampa Bay Times,, and FanRag Sports. He now lends his expertise to, among other duties.

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