Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday's Turn of the Wheel

I've cut back to one post a day and this is what came up. Sorry.

"State cuts tax projections for Plainridge Park casino" by Sean P. Murphy Globe Staff  December 14, 2015

State officials have cut by nearly 40 percent the amount of tax revenue they expect Plainridge Park Casino to generate, the latest sign that the state’s first casino is falling short of expectations.

Meaning budget cuts will have to be made next year.

Located off Interstate 95 near the Rhode Island border, Plainridge was supposed to stop the stream of Massachusetts gamblers headed for Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., just 11 miles away.

But budget revisions by officials in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island after Plainridge’s gala opening on June 24 suggest that the slot parlor has not kept Massachusetts gamblers from heading across the border.

Budget analysts in Massachusetts at first projected Plainridge to generate $262 million annually in gambling revenue but slashed that estimate to $207 million in October and to $160 million last month, based on lower-than-expected sales during Plainridge’s first few months of operation.

That will mean that instead of the $128 million in tax revenue officials projected before Plainridge opened, the state would receive $78 million.

At the same time, Rhode Island budget analysts, who had initially lowered their expectations because of the competition from Plainridge, last month added $35 million in overall projected slot machine revenue at Twin River.

“It’s clear Twin River has blunted the impact of the opening of Plainridge,” said Paul Grimaldi, a Rhode Island Department of Revenue spokesman. “Twin River is maintaining its attractiveness to gamblers. The early indications are positive for Rhode Island.”

Stephen P. Crosby, chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, on Monday agreed that revenues are not what the state had expected but said the advent of the casino era in Massachusetts is bringing a range of other benefits, such as jobs and economic development.

“Yes, tax revenues are less than what we expected, but so far Plainridge has produced more than $30 million in taxes that the Commonwealth would not have without Plainridge,” he said.

To explain why Twin River has retained much of the market share, casino specialists point to some significant differences that separate the two venues, which are within a 25 minute-drive.... 

Here we go, getting taken for a ride. 

Apparently, the differences are much more variety, a full range of table games, and Twin River allows smoking.

Gambling revenue at Plainridge has fallen in every month since it opened, while a Plainridge executive said there is plenty of time to improve revenues....

These guys are just like their customers!


"Is the state’s first casino in trouble already?" by Shirley Leung Globe Columnist  December 09, 2015

PLAINVILLE — Is the first Massachusetts casino in trouble already?

There’s only one person we should be asking: Tim Wilmott, CEO of Penn National Gaming, which owns the Plainridge Park Casino here. When the place opened in June, there was a line out the door, but since then revenues have been sliding.

That Plainridge’s numbers are falling short even though there is zero competition in Massachusetts now is grist for gambling skeptics. Both MGM Springfield and Wynn Resorts in Everett are years away from opening, and imagine what happens if the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe or Rush Street Gaming succeed in building a resort casino in the southeast region.

Maybe Wilmott has a good poker face, but my take is that he is unfazed by Plainridge’s lackluster launch. He tells me Penn has opened six casinos in four years, amassing an empire of regional gambling houses in Ohio, Illinois, and other states. This always happens. A great first month or two, a drop off, and then the business starts to pick up again in the seventh or eighth month.

Wilmott warns that the numbers will get worse before they get better. December and January are typically the weakest months of the year between the holidays and the holiday bills that come due.

“You can’t compete with Santa Claus,” said Wilmott.

Or, it turns out Tom Brady.

Sundays, typically the third busiest day after Fridays and Saturdays, have taken a hit when the Patriots are playing, especially when it’s a home game. Foxborough is only a few miles away from Plainridge, and Penn underestimated the impact on game days. Gamblers are just like everyone else: They hate traffic.

“I joked with someone yesterday that I wish the New England team were the Eagles, not the Patriots,” said Wilmott. “There would be less fan interest.” 

Sick of the excu$es yet? 

Don't they have televisions at the slot parlor?

But here’s why Wilmott is willing to take the long view on Massachusetts....

I fold.



"Two 15-year-old girls are facing charges for allegedly handcuffing another teen girl and holding what turned out to be a realistic looking pellet gun to her head in a dispute over a boy, Plainville police said. The Sun Chronicle reported that the alleged assault took place at a house party late last month at which alcohol and marijuana were present, and was reported to police by the victim’s father. The two 15-year-old girls face armed assault charges in Norfolk County juvenile court and are being held in custody pending a dangerousness hearing Thursday. No names were released because they are juveniles (AP)."

I see a career in federal law enforcement for those enterprising young girls.

Time to show:

"Casino opponents challenge ballot question" by Stephanie Ebbert Globe Staff  December 10, 2015

Opponents of a casino at Suffolk Downs racetrack are going to court to challenge a ballot question that could pave the way for a slots parlor near the track.

Residents of East Boston and Revere, who already fought off two separate casino plans for the horse track that spans their communities, filed a petition in the Supreme Judicial Court this week, arguing that Attorney General Maura Healey and Secretary of State William F. Galvin should not have certified the measure.

The ballot question, if approved by voters, would alter the state’s casino law to allow a second slots parlor to be built in Massachusetts. The casino law enacted in 2011 allowed for just one slots parlor, which is now in operation in Plainville, and for three resort-style casinos to be built around the state....

Looks like the game is over before it has even begun!


RelatedMayor Walsh, Steve Wynn hold talks on Everett casino


Is Marty Walsh finally folding on the Everett casino?

Gambling revenue at Plainridge Park slides again in November

Even with the falloff in Plainridge revenue, the state is still reaping a considerable benefit from the casino.

Yes, is kicked back as aid to towns and cities and to prop up what’s left of the state’s horse-racing industry.

Even so, the downturn in revenue at Plainridge has cast a darker pall over the nascent Casino Era in Massachusetts.

I was usually in a down mood the few days in this life that I went to the track.

"Walsh doubles down on fight against Wynn casino" by Jim O’Sullivan and Meghan E. Irons Globe Staff  December 05, 2015

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, after taking a rhetorical beating from a judge who threw out his administration’s effort to block an Everett casino, signaled willingness Friday to continue pressing a cause that has cost taxpayers $1.25 million in legal fees.

“It’s worth it,” Walsh told reporters during a brief encounter at City Hall. “I’m fighting on behalf of the people of Boston. I’m not going to roll over and not fight for the people of Boston.”

Given the wealth inequality and slum sections of that city, I dunno.

But Walsh’s legal setback furnishes the latest reminder that, nearly a decade after it landed on the public docket, the casino issue has a tendency to take a chunk out of many of the politicians who dare touch it, from whichever angle.

Then-governor Deval Patrick unfurled his three-casino plan in 2007, disappointing many anti-gambling liberals who had supported his candidacy in 2006. But Patrick was facing a cratering state budget and was desperate for jobs, and frequently downplayed gambling’s centrality to his agenda.

Then-House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi fought Patrick’s proposal fiercely, and there are still those close to DiMasi who believe his intransigence encouraged the campaign that landed him in federal prison on corruption convictions.

I'm not close to him, don't even know him, and I believe that.

His successor, Robert A. DeLeo, suffered a humiliating defeat in 2010, staking an enormous amount of political capital against Patrick, against the advice of some of his deputies, over slot parlors. Patrick signed the law in 2011.

In Everett, Mayor Carlo DeMaria called the judge’s ruling another positive step for his city, saying the casino would produce roughly 4,000 construction jobs, and 4,000 permanent jobs when it opens.

Doubts about promised economic benefits have troubled casino backers before; discredited job-creation projections helped doom Patrick’s proposal in his fight with DiMasi. “The casinos promise all this revenue, and they come in and you end up with all of these different complications, and I think that’s what’s happened,” said Dan Bosley, who worked with DiMasi in the House to block Patrick’s proposal in 2008.

Walsh, though, appears to have opted to wield a blunt political meat ax in the face of the legal and economic complexities. And he has shown little inclination to abandon that strategy.


RelatedJudge rejects Boston suit to block casino