Plainridge Park Casino, the state’s first casino, raked in $6.1 million in gambling revenue in its first week of operation, enough for the casino’s owners to declare themselves “pleased” with the results and for one industry specialist to call it “a great start.”
State officials hope that Plainridge will draw in gambling dollars now being spent in Rhode Island and Connecticut, and the early results released Thursday by the Gaming Commission suggested that it might work.
The early numbers showed that Plainridge was earning about twice as much per machine as two of its much larger competitors, Foxwoods in Connecticut and Twin River in Rhode Island.
“More than $6 million — that’s an incredible number. . . . Plainridge is showing it can certainly compete with the existing casinos,” said Clyde W. Barrow, a University of Texas professor who has long studied the New England casino market. “This opening confirms there is market demand for more gambling and that concerns over a saturated market may have been overblown.”
Barrow characterized the early success of Plainridge as “a honeymoon,” but he also projected the casino could gross somewhere between $200 million and $250 million in its first year. The Gaming Commission has projected $200 million in gross earnings from Plainridge.
Before Plainridge opened June 24, Lance George, its general manager, had said his company hoped to collect almost $500 a day per machine. That number was eclipsed by the result, $586 per machine.
“We are pleased by the revenue results and the patron response to the Commonwealth’s first casino,” George said Thursday in a prepared statement.
Plainridge’s monopoly on Las Vegas-style gambling in Massachusetts will not last. Wynn Resorts is expected to open a casino in Everett in 2018 with 3,000 slot machines and 150 table games. MGM Resorts is planning a similarly sized facility in Springfield, also set to open in 2018.
Those casinos will cut into Plainridge’s profits, but also help the comparatively small slots parlor in the larger goal of keeping Massachusetts gamblers at home. Plainridge has just 1,500 slot and video machines, compared with Foxwoods, which boasts more than 5,250 machines, and Twin River, which offers 4,750.
Massachusetts may be the biggest beneficiary of Plainridge’s fast start. Its share of the gross gaming revenue in the first week is more than $3 million, of which $2.5 million is earmarked to be distributed to cities and towns and $550,000 is reserved to support the horse racing industry.
Under the 2011 state casino law, 40 percent of gross gaming revenues goes to the state for local aid and 9 percent goes to the horse racing industry. If Plainridge takes in the $200 million projected by the Gaming Commission, that would mean $80 million for local cities and towns and $18 million for thoroughbred and harness horse racing.
Barrow said one big factor in Plainridge’s early success is its location in Plainville, near Interstate 495 and about 35 miles southwest of Boston.
“It is positioned perfectly to intercept gamblers from Massachusetts who otherwise would have gone to Rhode Island or Connecticut,” he said.