Casinos' slots revenue down by more than 10% in December

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Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun reported double-digit declines in slots-machine revenue for December, reversing a short-lived trend.

The casinos had reported year-over-year increases in slots revenue in October and November after 15 straight months of declines.

Foxwoods “won,” or kept, $33.6 million in slots revenue after paying out prizes last month, a 10.1% decrease over the $37 million it kept in December 2018. Mohegan Sun, which kept $43.9 million last month, was down 11.8% over the $49.8 million it kept the same month the previous year.

The casinos’ slots “handle” — the total amount wagered before prizes are paid — also dropped sharply last month. Foxwoods’ December handle of $407.1 million was down 13.9% while Mohegan Sun’s fell 13.6% to $546.6 million.

Foxwoods paid $8.5 million of its slots win to the state. Mohegan Sun contributed $11 million.

“We knew going into December that it was going to be difficult to match last year,” said Jeff Hamilton, Mohegan Sun’s president and general manager. “There was one less Saturday (this December), which is like taking away a day that’s your busiest day. It’s impossible to make that up.”

Weather conditions and New Year’s Eve’s falling on a Tuesday also had a negative impact on December business, compared to a year ago, Hamilton said.

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have been contending with new competition from Massachusetts casinos whose impact has been less than expected.

“Although we’ve seen a decline in slot revenue due to increased competition in the New England market, we’re confident that we’ve taken the necessary steps to minimize potential impact on the overall business,” a Foxwoods spokesman said. “We look forward to working with state leaders in the coming legislative session on changes to the Connecticut gaming market that will bring in new revenue and create jobs.”

The legislature, which convenes next month, is expected to renew its consideration of legalizing sports betting, an activity the casinos are eager to introduce.

MGM Springfield’s slots revenue last month totaled $13.9 million, down 2.4% over December 2018. The western Massachusetts casino’s overall gaming revenue — from table games as well as slots — was $19 million, down 12.2%.

Encore Boston Harbor, which opened in June, had its best month in December, taking in $54 million in gaming revenue, including $22.6 million in slots revenue and $31.4 million in table-games revenue.

The Connecticut casinos don't release their table-games revenue on a monthly basis.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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