The thrill is gone at Plainridge

Make it local or make it Vegas but don’t make it lame seems to be the takeaway for Penn National Gaming, the gaming giant that runs the Plainridge Park Casino.

Penn National CEO Tom Wilmott told Boston Globe business columnist Shirley Leung that he regretted not offering the Bay State’s signature coffee brand at Plainridge. “We should have known being in the Boston market that we needed Dunkin’ Donuts,” he said.

Plainridge opened in June with lines out the door. But anyone who has seen a line for a new facility knows if you wait long enough, you can get in without standing around. What gamblers found appears to be somewhat disappointing. So they are voting with their feet and their feet seem to be taking them down the road to Little Rhody.

The Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island, is holding its own against its Bay State competition. WPRI.com reported that Moody’s Investors Service found that revenues at Twin River were down about 6 percent in the first three months that Plainridge was open.

“So far, the opening of Plainridge Park has not materially impacted results for its closest competitor Twin River,” Moody’s noted. Executives at the Rhode Island facility anticipated a decline in revenues when the Massachusetts facility opened.

Twin River is poised to gin up its advantages at least in the short term. The Rhode Island facility has different gaming features than Plainridge, including many more slots machines and Las Vegas-style table games run by real live humans. It’s three times as big, has amenities that Plainridge does not offer, and will soon have a hotel. Twin River executives told the Providence Journal that the hotel plan that Gov. Gina Raimondo signed off on earlier this year is designed to keep “convenience gamblers” from running up to Massachusetts.

Plainridge does have the horses, but interest in harness racing is waning.

Even more revealing are comments about the Plainridge actual gambling experience on TripAdvisor and Boston.com. “Of all the casinos I have visited in the last 20 years, Plainridge has the very worst payouts to the extent that playing the machines is no longer fun or interesting and a total downer” TripAdvisor commenter John K wrote.  “You would be better off going to Twin River, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, or other casinos or staying home and playing scratch offs.”

“I understand why traffic at this casino is decreasing. There are few if any licensed machines,” said another TripAdvisor commenter. “Where are the Monopoly, Sex In the City, ZZ Top, Michael Jackson, Betty Boop, Ghostbusters, etc., etc., machines? Not at Plainridge. There are more updated machines at Twin River.”

“Word is out that Plainridge takes your money like that Vin Diesel and Paul Walker movie, “Fast and Furious,” a Boston Globe commenter ScratchCook noted. “A few of us are choosing to go to Twin Rivers today.”

In the current gaming ecosystem, Twin River may boast a few more winners than Plainridge. But storm clouds are gathering for both facilities. The TripAdvisor and Globe comments also suggest that gamblers prefer the resort casino experience of places like Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods in Connecticut to either Plainridge or Twin River and they are willing to travel for it. When Wynn Casinos opens up (and if a Southeastern Massachusetts facility joins it) both facilities may find themselves on the losing end of the gaming proposition.

In the meantime, Twin River runs on Dunkin.

GABRIELLE GURLEY

 

BEACON HILL

Road safety groups push for ignition interlock devices instead of license suspensions to deal with drunk drivers. (State House News)

Uncomfortable company: Former House speaker Tom Finneran‘s effort to have his state pension restored despite his federal conviction related to testimony he offered in a restricting lawsuit may rely on a ruling in another case that a former teacher could keep his pension despite conviction on child pornography charges because the crime was not directly related to his public-sector position. (Boston Herald)

Gov. Charlie Baker defended the rehiring of some state workers who took advantage of an early retirement plan he pushed for. (Boston Herald)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh plans to seek more money from developers for affordable housing. (WBUR) Walsh sits down with Jim Braude for a wide-ranging discussion on casinos, gun control, presidential politics, and his support for a compassionate release for imprisoned former House speaker Sal DiMasi. (Greater Boston)

Herald curmudgeon-in-chief Joe Fitzgerald has a serial set of harumphs for Walsh, accusing the mayor of going all frat-party on us.

David Camasso, who was fired by Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera two years ago, is back on the job after a court ruling that he was let go improperly. But the job is only temporary, as he agreed to leave at the end of the year in a settlement with the city that pays him $210,550 and most likely will up his pension benefits. (Eagle-Tribune)

The Quincy planning director, who clashed with Mayor Thomas Koch and was suspended after he requested a reduced schedule for health reasons, has opted to retire. Koch replaced him with his chief of staff and then appointed his campaign chairman as the new chief of staff. (Patriot Ledger)

The Worcester City Council votes 6-5 to shift a greater share of the municipality’s tax burden onto businesses, reversing an approach taken the last five years. (Telegram & Gazette) A T&G editorial urged the council not to shift course.

CASINOS

A busy day for Steve Wynn. He has a “positive” meeting with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and then announces he spent $62 million on 1 million shares of his company’s stock. (CommonWealth)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

A bill to tighten restrictions on visas for people coming from Syria and Iraq was derailed for several hours in Congress as Democrats tried to force a vote on a measure to ban those on airline no-fly lists from buying guns. (U.S. News & World Report)

Time names German Chancellor Angela Merkel as its person of the year.

ELECTIONS

Lots of opinions about Donald Trump. Except from Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who remains mum. (Telegram & Gazette) Thomas Friedman calls Trump the “Islamic State’s secret agent.” (New York Times) Syndicated conservative columnist Mona Charen wonders if Trump is secretly working for Hillary Clinton. (National Review) Dan Balz likens Trump to George Wallace and Charles Coughlin. (Washington Post)

It’s time to “Dump Trump,” declares a Boston Herald editorial. Not so fast, say Trump’s New Hampshire supporters, who seem to be sticking with him, reports the Globe‘s Akilah Johnson. Robert Sullivan says voters may be drawn more to Trump’s “signaling” than to his specifics. (America)

Trump’s newly appointed Massachusetts campaign director has lost four races for elected office and was “let go” after a brief stint as Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito’s driver during the 2014 campaign. (Boston Globe)

There is a national movement to lower the voting age to 16 in local elections to engage young people, though some see it as a Trojan horse to get more liberals on the voting rolls. (New York Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The liberal Economic Policy Institute, long a thorn in the side of Walmart, says Chinese imports sold by the retail giant have cost Americans more than 400,000 jobs, a figure the company dismisses because it doesn’t include jobs created by the imports such as trucking and shipping. (New York Times)

College loan repayment benefits are the newest employee perk being offered by some companies. (Boston Globe)

The rate for American adults who volunteered their time and services dropped to its lowest level since federal officials began collecting the data 13 years ago. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

EDUCATION

The Lynn schools superintendent, backed by Sen. Thomas McGee and Reps. Robert Fennel and Brendan Crighton, urges state officials to bar a charter school from opening downtown. (The Item)

Regis and North Essex Community College team up to tap the workforce potential of Gateway Cities. (CommonWealth)

The principal of Swampscott High School is placed on administrative leave, but no reason is given for the action. (The Item)

Northeastern University will equip its campus police with semiautomatic rifles. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The infant mortality rate in the US fell to its lowest level ever last year with part of the decline attributed to a drop in C-sections, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. (New York Times)

The Freetown Planning Board has given approval to a plan to build a medical marijuana growing and processing facility in an industrial park off Route 24. (Herald News)

Those bad burritos from a Cleveland Circle Chipotle that sickened some 80 Boston College students carried norovirus, public health officials say. (Boston Globe)

The Barnstable County jail is seeing encouraging results with the use of Vivitrol, a long-acting blocker of opioid-receptors that makes it impossible to get high off opiates, for departing inmates. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Free riding pol: Lots of fares are going uncollected on commuter rail trains, reports the Herald — including that of Sen. Jamie Eldridge, who says he had a free ride into Boston yesterday.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The US is an unlikely hero at the Paris climate talks. (Time)

Many states are buying and tearing down homes to ease flood damage. (Governing)

The Haverhill City Council approves a contract to put a 2 megawatt solar installation on top of the high school in a deal that will cut power costs from 20 cents a kilowatt hour to 13 cents. (Eagle-Tribune)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejects a bid by Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt to hold another hearing in his town on a proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline. (Salem News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A prosecution witness testifies Philip Chism was faking mental illness after being arrested in the murder of his teacher, Colleen Ritzer. Judge David Lowy is temporarily barring the press from the Chism murder trial after news organizations refused to comply with a request not to write about questions used to detect whether someone is faking mental illness. (Salem News)

MEDIA

Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith tells staffers it’s OK to call Donald Trump a racist on social media. (The Blaze)

The National Association of Black Journalists is suffering a financial meltdown. (Huffington Post)