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State raises estimates for casinos’ slots-revenue payments

January 21, 2019

State officials have raised their estimates of the slot-machine revenue they expect southeastern Connecticut’s casinos to generate in the current fiscal year and beyond.

In a report issued last week, the General Assembly’s Office of Fiscal Analysis projects that the state’s 25-percent share of the casinos’ slots revenue in the 2019 fiscal year, which extends to June 30, will total 223.6 million.

Going forward, the office estimates that the payments the state receives from the casino-owning Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes will total 223.1 million in fiscal 2021; and 201.2 million in fiscal 2020; 199.3 million in fiscal 2022.

Why the upward revisions?

Chris McClure, a spokesman for the state Office and Policy and Management, said the revisions reflect “what has happened in Massachusetts and what has not happened here in Connecticut.”

He was referring to the impact Massachusetts casinos, both open and yet-to-open, are expected to have on Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun. MGM Springfield, the first full-scale casino in Massachusetts, opened in August while Encore Boston Harbor, an Everett facility, is scheduled to open in June. It’s unclear whether a Massachusetts Gaming Commission investigation of Wynn Resorts’ “suitability” to hold a gaming license for the project will affect Encore’s opening.

“For the past several years, OPM and OFA have reached consensus that the casinos (MGM Springfield and Encore) opening in Massachusetts would have a negative impact upon the revenue generated by the casinos located in Connecticut,” McClure wrote in an email. “Then, with the delay of Encore, some of the revenue was added back in and now we are seeing that MGM Springfield is not altering our casino gaming to the degree we had anticipated.”

“So, casino revenue is not necessarily surging, it is that it is beating our expectations,” McClure wrote.

On a year-over-year basis, slots revenue at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun has declined in each of the first six months of the current fiscal year, which began July 1. The declines since September — the first full month of operation for MGM Springfield — have not been as severe as expected, casino officials have said.

Midway through the fiscal year, the casinos have combined to pay 272.2 million.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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