From GamblingCompliance: Benefits Of Massachusetts Slot Parlor Outweigh Social Costs, Study Shows

With the release of a study analyzing the social and economic impact of Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, Massachusetts, lawmakers may consider a similar study when looking to legalize sports betting, but the state appears to be in no hurry, the chairman of the state’s gaming commission said Monday.

“I don’t think there is a sense of urgency but the leadership of the legislature is committed to taking their time when it comes to sports betting,” said Stephen Crosby, chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).

“[The] legislature is appropriately cautious when moving forward,” Crosby told GamblingCompliance.

On June 26, the MGC released a report that found Plainridge Park Casino has contributed millions of dollars in monthly tax revenue, while avoiding contributing to an increase in problem gaming since it opened in 2015.

The report analyzed multiple variables including problem gambling, employment, revenue generation, crime and public health.

According to the report, there was no significant changes in problem gambling or related problems since Plainridge opened. In fact, researchers found the number of people identified as problem gamblers actually decreased from 7,586 in 2014 to 5,276 in 2016.

“I don’t really see any impact on the health and well-being of the people of Plainville,” Lou LeBlanc, chairman of the Plainville Board of Health, wrote. “Conditions now seem to be as they were prior to the opening of the casino.”

According to the study, total revenue generated from slot and table games, as well as non-gambling revenue, has increased every year since 2015.

In 2017, Plainridge recorded total revenue of $185.7m up from $176m in 2016 and $104.1m in 2015. Slot and table game revenue alone was $164.8m in 2017, up from $155m in 2016 and $88.2m in 2015.

Plainridge Park Casino opened on June 24, 2015 with 1,249 slot machines and electronic table games, along with harness racing, live simulcasting of horse races and several instant and lottery ticket kiosks.

Massachusetts’ 2011 Expanded Gaming Act authorized three integrated casino-resorts in three regions of the state, plus a slots-only facility that became Plainridge.

“In the past, when you hear debates about casinos they are mostly advocates and opponents yelling bumper stickers at each other,” Crosby said.

“Pro casinos say ‘jobs and revenue’ and the anti-casino opponents say ‘crime and problem gambling’. For once, we will have hard data on the pros and cons, the benefits and cost, of everything that could be affected,” the chairman said.

Crosby declined to comment on the potential impact of MGM Resorts International’s casino in Springfield and Wynn Resorts project in Everett on the state’s gaming industry, citing the ongoing investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former Wynn founder and chairman Steve Wynn.

However, Crosby did confirm the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences would conduct similar impact studies on MGM’s $950m Springfield resort opening in August and Wynn Resorts’ $2.4bn facility located adjacent to Boston.

The study, “The Economic & Social Impacts of the Plainridge Park Casino on Plainville and Surrounding Communities”, also found the facility had a positive impact on employment and small business stability.

Currently, Plainridge employs 465 people, with 66.2 percent categorized as full-time. Researchers found that of the casino’s employees, 65 percent are residents of Massachusetts and 34 percent lived in the city of Plainville.

“We have had an awful lot of influx of new business,” said city treasurer Kathleen Parker.

“That was one of the problems people were saying, ‘oh it will knock the small [businesses] out’. No, that is not true. [Small businesses] are thriving,” she said.

Crosby said an important take away from such a detailed report is, “it’s important to do an objective assessment of the cost and benefits” no matter the outcome.

“From the industry standpoint, they can take comfort and pride in, thus far, the cost of the casino have been minimal and the benefits, particularly economically, have been substantial,” Crosby said.

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