What You Need to Know

The Expanded Gaming Act requires MGC to establish “an annual research agenda” to understand the social and economic effects of casino gambling in Massachusetts.

Research Goals

  • Understand the social and economic effects of expanded gambling and use findings to inform evidence-based policy and regulation
  • Obtain scientific information relative to the neuroscience, psychology, sociology, epidemiology and etiology of gambling
  • Inform best practice strategies and methods for responsible gaming and problem gambling treatment and prevention
  • Evaluate all responsible gaming initiatives developed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA)

In 2013, the Commission engaged a team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to conduct a comprehensive, multi-year study of the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) to understand the impacts of expanded gaming in the State. The study established baselines for all social and economic variables that may be affected by expanded gaming. The research team will collect, analyze and report each year to identify the actual impacts, which will provide key information to policy makers.

Summary Reports

The present report is the first in a series of reports that will document changes in the social and economic landscape in Massachusetts that can potentially be attributed to the introduction of these new gambling venues.

SEIGMA Social Impact Reports

Gambling and Problem Gambling

The 2017 “BPGS” report summarizes findings from the 2013/2014 baseline population survey of 9,578 Massachusetts residents to assess gambling behavior and problem gambling before any of the state’s new casinos become operational.

In 2013/2014, a general population survey of 9,578 Massachusetts adults was conducted with results reported in Volberg et al. (2015). The present report is a follow-up to this. Whereas Volberg et al. (2015) provided a description of the characteristics of nongamblers, recreational gamblers, at-risk gamblers, and problem gamblers, the present report focuses on identifying the univariate and multivariate predictors of membership in these groups.

The SEIGMA “BOPS” report summarizes the results of a baseline online panel survey, which recruited a significantly larger number of problem gamblers than could be obtained in a general population survey.

The White Paper summarizes descriptive statistics from the baseline population survey, a descriptive analysis of data from a problem gambling helpline, and key findings from an online focus group made up of statewide mental health and substance abuse treatment providers.

SEIGMA Economic Impact Reports

Patron Survey

The SEIGMA team released its first patron and license plate survey, conducted in 2016 at Plainridge Park Casino. Rachel Volberg, professor of epidemiology at UMass Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences and a lead SEIGMA researcher, says, “The survey is a tool that allows us to collect data from patrons about where they come from and how much they spend, which is important for understanding the economic impacts of the casino.”

Operations Period Impacts

The UMass Donahue Institute released an analysis of the impacts from Plainridge Park Casino’s first year of operation. The Institute worked directly with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and Plainridge Park Casino to determine the economic footprint of PPC’s operations, including employment, wages, vendor spending, and fiscal impacts from taxes and other assessments paid to government. Researchers also analyzed how shifts in patron spending as a result of gaming expansion affected the state.


Research conducted by the UMass Donahue Institute details the economic impact of the Plainridge Park Casino construction. Findings show that 99% of $13.3 million of preconstruction spending and 85% of the $115.4 million of construction spending went to Massachusetts-based businesses. Construction created or supported an average of 558 full-time equivalent jobs and $46 million of wages per year over 2014 and 2015.


The UMass Donahue Institute released a compilation of results from two years of new employee questionnaires collected at Plainridge Park Casino. This report is the latest in a series of studies focused on the economic impacts of the gaming industry in the Commonwealth.


The 2017 Lottery Revenue report released by the Economic and Public Policy research group at the UMass Donahue Institute shows that lottery sales have not decreased statewide, nor near Plainridge Park Casino, during the first year after the facility opened in June 2015.

The two-year analysis released on May 10, 2018, continued to show that no large, significant decline in lottery revenue can be attributed to Plainridge Park Casino.

Host Community Profiles

These reports, by the Economic and Public Policy research group at the UMass Donahue Institute, present economic profiles of casino host communities to provide baseline economic conditions within, before the introduction of casinos. The information illustrates recent trends and conditions within the city or town’s industrial structure, business community, labor force and residential population. This profile data will be updated after casinos are introduced in order to track economic changes over time.

Real Estate

Since the awarding of its gaming license and its subsequent opening in 2015, the Plainridge Park Casino (PPC) has not had a strong effect on several indicators that measure the local residential, commercial, and industrial real estate markets, according to a study conducted by the UMass Donahue Institute as part of the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) research team.

These reports, by the Economic and Public Policy research group at the UMass Donahue Institute, present the economic profile of each host community to provide information on baseline economic conditions within Springfield before the introduction of casinos.

Massachusetts Gambling Impact Cohort (MAGIC)

MGC is collaborating with the same University of Massachusetts Amherst team to conduct a longitudinal cohort study which promises to provide new and much needed information about problem gambling incidence rates and behavioral trajectory.  Known as MAGIC, this landmark study will yield important information leading to treatment and prevention initiatives that are tailored to the needs of the people of the Commonwealth. Specifically, this valuable research will:

  • Establish the raw number of new problem gamblers each year (necessary for resource allocation)
  • Identify the variables of greatest etiological importance in the development of and remission from problem gambling
  • Determine whether proportionally more resources should be put into prevention or treatment.

On January 10, 2018, MAGIC researchers released a baseline study on gambling behavior in Massachusetts that establishes how people participated – or not – in gambling prior to the opening of any casinos. The study is based on analyses of 3,096 Massachusetts residents who completed the SEIGMA baseline study of self-reported past-year gambling behaviors in Wave 1 in 2013/2014 and Wave 2 in 2015. The researchers observed a statistically significant increase in overall gambling participation as well as in participation in casino gambling and horse race betting within the cohort between Wave 1 and Wave 2. They also report a statistically significant increase in the cohort in the average number of gambling formats engaged in over the previous 12 months. However, in all cases this increase was “quite small,” they note, between 2 and 3.2 percent.

Population Studies

The objective of this arm of the research agenda is to advance the knowledge regarding the introduction of casinos on population subgroups not reached by the initial general population baseline survey but considered at greater risk of experiencing gambling related harm.

Public Safety Impacts

In 2014, the MGC contracted with a career crime analyst, Christopher Bruce, to extract data from the agencies likely to be affected by the opening of gaming facilities; to prepare a baseline analysis of public safety activity in the Plainville, Springfield and Everett areas for the five years prior to opening; and to design a process for assessing changes on a bi-annual basis after the openings of Plainridge Park, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor.

In October 2018, MGC released a report of “baseline” statistics for the Springfield area agencies, with annual totals of the types of crimes, calls for service, and collision data against which post-casino periods would be compared.

In August 2015, MGC released a report of “baseline” statistics for the Plainville area agencies, with annual totals of the types of crimes, calls for service, and collision data against which post‐casino periods would be compared.

In April 2016, MGC released a report covering the first six months of casino operations. The report was based on somewhat limited data, and comparison data from other communities was not yet available.

In December 2016, MGC released a report summarizing a full year (July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016) of changes in crime, calls for service, and collisions. It, in most cases comparing activity to the same period in previous years and in other communities. The annual report offers both general statistics and detailed analysis of observed changes.

In March 2018, MGC received an update to the Public Safety Impact Report. The two-year analysis continues to indicate that incidents occurring at PPC are proportionate with expected totals at similar facilities that draw a significant number of people, have a large parking area, offer retail, entertainment, and dining options, and serve alcohol. The types of calls for service to increase are those highly correlated with the numbers of cars and visitors to a community, such as traffic issues and reports of lost property and suspicious activity.

In May 2019, MGC released a report covering the first four months of casino operations for MGM Springfield.

Evaluation Reports

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has contracted with the Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance, to provide an evaluation its responsible gaming initiatives.

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