Encore eating into Conn., Rhode Island gambling revenue  

Everett casino pulls in nearly $50m in first full month 

THE ENCORE BOSTON HARBOR casino brought in close to $50 million during its first full month of operation, and the lavish riverfront gambling facility already appears to be taking a bite out of the New England casino market while also setting a new standard for table game revenue.

July revenue figures released by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission show the Everett casino pulled in $48.5 million, with $27.4 million coming from table games and $21.1 million from slot machine players. The casino spun off $12.1 million in taxes to the state.

The revenue numbers come in the wake of reports this week that Twin River Casino in Rhode Island will layoff 30 employees after July table game revenue fell by 34 percent at its main gambling facility in Lincoln. 

Meanwhile, the two tribal casinos in Connecticut saw big falloffs in slot machine revenue last month. Mohegan Sun reported a 15.1 percent drop in slot revenue, from $55 million in July 2018 to $46.7 million last month.  Foxwoods reported an 11.2 percent drop, from $42.8 million in slot revenue in July 2018 to $38 million. The two casinos have seen a steady erosion in revenue going back more than a decade, but the July numbers represent a much bigger drop than the declines recorded over the last several years. (The Connecticut tribal casinos have table games and slots, but only pay taxes and report to the state on slot revenue.) 

“Encore has certainly taken over the New England scene,” said Richard McGowan, a professor in the Carroll School of Management at Boston College who studies the gambling industry. 

Gambling proponents in Massachusetts long argued for bringing casinos here so the state could grab some of the lucrative casino market in neighboring Connecticut and Rhode Island and hold on to the millions of dollars spent across the border by Massachusetts residents.

A spokeswoman for Twin River Casino said there was no doubt that last month’s falloff in revenue there was a result of the new Everett casino. “The decline is due primarily to the recent opening of Encore Boston,” said Patti Doyle.

McGowan said the breakdown of gambling revenue at Encore, with $6 million more brought in from table games than slot machines, was remarkable. “For a casino to be taking in more money from table games than slot machines is incredibly unusual,” he said. “I don’t know of a casino that’s done it.”  

McGowan said it shows casino owner Wynn Resorts is meeting its goal of drawing lots of “high rollers” who gamble heavily at the higher-stakes table games. “That’s what Wynn wants, and so far they’ve been very successful at doing it,” McGowan said.

Wynn Resorts declined to comment on the July revenue figures, saying as a publicly traded company it will discuss them as part of its next quarterly earnings call.

The Encore casino, a massive $2.6 billion complex along the Mystic River, opened to great  fanfare in late June, and pulled in $16.7 million during its first week.

McGowan said the casino was projected to bring in roughly $600 million a year, a figure that Encore seems on track to approach if it maintains the level of business seen in July. 

The fate of the casino was thrown into uncertainty following allegations of sexual misconduct against Wynn Resorts founder and CEO Steve Wynn, first reported in January 2018 by the Wall Street Journal

Wynn Resorts severed all ties with its namesake, but questions about the broader conduct of company executives in dealing with the allegations against Steve Wynn led the state gaming commission to open an investigation into the company’s suitability to retain its license. The investigation found serious lapses by former executives who covered up allegations against Wynn. 

In May, Wynn Resorts agreed to pay a $35.5 million fine as a condition of retaining its license. It also paid a $500,000 fine levied against Matthew Maddox, who took over as president and CEO after Steve Wynn’s exit. 

The gaming commission also ordered appointment of an independent monitor, at the company’s expense, to review its compliance with a set of reforms ordered by the state panel related to human resource policies in the wake of the allegations against Steve Wynn.

On Thursday, the gaming commission announced that the Washington, DC-based law firm Miller & Chevalier Chartered has been retained to serve as the monitor overseeing Wynn’s compliance with the personnel requirements set forth by the commission. 

“Our firm will approach these objectives through the lens of our decades of experience building compliance programs across industries and through our extensive monitorship expertise,“ Alejandra Montenegro Almonte, a leader at the firm, said in a statement. “The process will be grounded on three inter-related principles — independence, efficiency, and transparency.” 

The firm received a five-year contract. Miller & Chevalier estimated that its fees for the first six months of the contract will be $575,000 to $775,000, based on an estimate of approximately 850 to 1,150 hours of work. 

“We look forward to working cooperatively with the [gaming commission’s] selected monitor and reviewing the significant changes in compliance and human resources programs we have implemented in the past 18 months,” Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver said in a statement.

The gaming commission also reported Thursday on July revenue figures for the state’s two other gambling facilities.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

The MGM casino in Springfield pulled in $20.4 million last month, $15.5 million from slots and $4.9 million from table games. The state got $5 million in taxes for the month.

The Plainridge Park Casino brought in $12.5 million last month, with the state reaping $6.1 million in taxes from gambling proceeds.