Metro

Survey at Plainville casino shows most spending is recaptured from out-of-state casinos

The majority of money spent at the Plainridge Park Casino, Massachusetts’ first casino, would have been spent on out-of-state gambling if the establishment had not opened.
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File 2016
The majority of money spent at the Plainridge Park Casino, Massachusetts’ first casino, would have been spent on out-of-state gambling if the establishment had not opened.

The opening of a casino in Plainville was a gamble that paid off.

The new casino has helped keep Massachusetts gamblers’ money from traveling out of state, according to a new report.

The majority of money spent at the Plainridge Park Casino, Massachusetts’ first casino, last year would have been spent on out-of-state gambling if the establishment had not opened, according to a survey of Massachusetts gamblers.

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The survey of Massachusetts gamblers, a multiyear, comprehensive study called the “Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts,” was conducted by a team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2016, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission said Thursday in a statement.

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The team asked patrons about their gambling and nongambling spending habits during casino visits in order to gather information about funds brought in by the casino, including how much of spending at the establishment was “reallocated” in state from other goods and services and how much was “recaptured” from those who would have spent money at out-of-state casinos.

More than half of all gambling spending by Massachusetts residents, 58.3 percent, was recaptured, the team estimated, while 16.3 percent was reallocated.

“We were able to use the survey results to estimate that the majority of the money spent at PPC would have been spent out of state if gambling had never expanded in Massachusetts,” Mark Melnik, a lead researcher on the team, said in the statement.

The survey also found that nearly 90 percent of patrons had visited casinos in other states during the year before the Plainridge casino opened in June 2015, most traveling to Connecticut and Rhode Island to try their luck.

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The researchers shared the results of their survey with the commission in order to help them better understand the economic effects of new gambling establishments, the commission said.

“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,” Rachel Volberg, a professor of epidemiology at UMass Amherst and a lead researcher on the team, said in the statement.

The majority of gamblers at the casino were older than the state’s general population and more likely to be white, had higher education than many, and had an annual household income between $50,000 and $100,000, the survey found.

Most were from Massachusetts. Residents of Plainville and other nearby communities accounted for 11.4 percent of patrons, and another 66.5 percent were from other parts of Massachusetts.

Slot machines are the casino’s most popular attraction. Eighty-seven percent of people surveyed said they played the slots. Smaller numbers of gamblers said they played the electronic table games and bet on horse races.

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“No other gaming commission in the country has this type of information at their fingertips to inform policy and make data-driven decisions,” Gaming Commissioner Enrique Zuniga said in the statement.

Alyssa Meyers can be reached at alyssa.meyers@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ameyers_.