Foxwoods' January slots revenue was lowest in decades

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Foxwoods Resort Casino reported Thursday that its slot-machine revenue was down 8.5 percent last month, the seventh straight month of year-over-year declines.

Moreover, the Mashantucket Pequot-owned casino's January "win" of $31 million was the lowest since February 1994, when it kept $29.2 million. Foxwoods began operating slots in January 1993.

The magnitude of last month's year-over-year decline fueled fresh speculation about the impact of MGM Springfield, the competing resort casino that opened last fall in western Massachusetts. Since then, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun officials have said the new casino has taken less of their business than they expected.

Mohegan Sun's January slots report, due out Friday, also is expected to show a significant year-over-year decrease in slots revenue decline. Also on Friday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will release MGM Springfield's January numbers.

“January was an anomaly,” said Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket tribal chairman serving as Foxwoods’ interim chief executive officer. “It’ll be interesting to see MGM’s numbers tomorrow. Primarily, what hit the whole market last month was a weird weather pattern that took out the entire (Martin Luther King) holiday weekend. I don’t think more than a couple of points (of the decline) is because of Springfield.”

The two casino-owning tribes joined forces three years ago to build a "satellite" casino in East Windsor to lessen MGM Springfield's impact. The project has yet to materialize.

Butler said the southeastern Connecticut casinos also are feeling the effect of legal sports betting at Rhode Island casinos.

“We can’t underestimate that,” he said. “In January, they had their second full month of sports betting and they’re the only venues in New England that have it. They’ve gotten a lift from it.”

Rhode Island introduced sports wagering late last year at Twin River Casino in Lincoln and Tiverton Casino Hotel in Tiverton. The state Senate has approved a bill that would authorize sports betting via mobile devices from anywhere in Rhode Island.

“The sooner we can figure it out in Connecticut, the sooner we’ll be more competitive,” Butler said.

The Connecticut legislature is considering a number of gaming-related bills, including ones that would authorize Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun and perhaps other entities to provide on-site and online sports betting.

Foxwoods’ January slots “handle,” the total amount of wagers before prizes were paid, totaled $378.8 million, a 9.2 percent decline over the same month the previous year.

Foxwoods contributed $7.8 million of its January slots revenue to the state.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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