Casinos report double-digit declines in March slot revenues

Slot machine revenues at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino fell by double-digit percentages last month, declines the casinos' top executives attributed to a familiar mix of stiff competition, the economy and nasty weather.

Mohegan Sun's slots "win" — the amount of wagers it kept after paying out prizes — totaled $51.9 million, down 11.6 percent over March 2013.

Foxwoods kept $44.6 million, a 10.2 percent decline.

"It was a fairly tough comparison, based on the calendar," said Bobby Soper, Mohegan Sun's president and chief executive officer. "We traded a Friday for a Monday."

March 2013 had five Fridays while March 2014 had four.

Soper said last month's cold temperatures kept some customers away and that the sluggish economy continued to affect "the consumer mindset."

In his statement, Foxwoods President and CEO Scott Butera blamed competition in the Northeast.

"The numbers are a sign of the times," he said. "We are in the midst of an ultra-competitive marketplace. We will continue to move forward with the plan that we have in place to solidify Foxwoods as an industry leader with world-class amenities and unrivaled customer service."

While the Connecticut casinos' slots numbers declined sharply, Resorts World Casino in New York City reported a March slots win of $73.5 million, a 3.4 percent increase over the $71.2 million it won the previous March.

Resorts World's March 2014 "handle" — the total amount wagered at its machines — was $1.57 billion, more than the Connecticut casinos' combined handle. Mohegan Sun's March handle was $625.6 million, down 10.7 percent over the previous March, while Foxwoods' $566.0 million handle was down 4.9 percent.

Soper said Resorts World serves a large market "that has yet to mature," and that its impact on Connecticut casinos likely has stabilized.

Empire City Casino at Yonkers (N.Y.) Raceway reported a March slots win of $50.5 million, a 6.1 percent decline over the previous March. Empire City's handle for the month was $745.0 million.

Data filed with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection's Gaming Division show a wide disparity in the level of free slots play the Connecticut casinos doled out in March. About $9.1 million in free-play coupons and credits were redeemed at Foxwoods, compared to the $5.4 million in credits redeemed at Mohegan Sun.

Mohegan Sun forwarded nearly $13 million of its March slots win to the state, while Foxwoods' contribution was $12.2 million.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

MARCH 2014 Slot-Machine Revenues
Foxwoods
Total win$44.6 million
Yearly change:-10.2%
State contribution$12.2 million
*Hold7.88%
Operating units5,821
Mohegan Sun
Total win$51.9 million
Yearly change-11.6%
State contribution$13.0 million
*Hold8.29%
Operating units5,447
*Hold is the average percent of total wagers kept by the casino.

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