plainridge casino

Players bet at some of the slot machines at Plainridge Park Casino.

PLAINVILLE — The head of Plainridge Park Casino acknowledged Thursday that a new casino in Everett has cut into his revenue, but he said he doesn’t plan any major changes to the way Plainridge does business.

“We’re not going to get into an arms race,” general manager Lance George said.

Speaking to the state Gaming Commission at Plainville Town Hall, George said revenue was down nearly $8.7 million last quarter.

The drop from nearly $45 million to $36 million represents a 19 percent decline.

George told the commission the slump is due to the additional competition from the newly opened Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.

He said there is always a rush to a new casino when it opens and Plainridge knew there would be an impact.

In response to a question from commission member Gayle Cameron about a possible change in business strategy, George said Plainridge expects the losses to lessen after the rush to Encore settles.

He said he expects some lost customers to return to Plainridge while others might divide their time between Plainridge and Encore.

Encore will likely also tone down its aggressive marketing once it gets established, he said.

“We’ll let it work its way out and not change dramatically,” George said, emphasizing Plainridge is a much smaller casino than Encore.

George did not touch on the fact that Plainridge only offers slot machines while Encore and other casinos have far more gambling options.

Local legislators, including state Rep. Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro, have filed a bill to allow tables games such as blackjack at Plainridge, but the House has yet to take up the measure.

When Plainridge reported a drop in revenue to $11.5 million for September, Clyde Barrow, an industry analyst, told The Sun Chronicle that competition was a reason.

He said in addition to Encore, Plainridge has new competition from a Twin River facility in Tiverton and a casino in Springfield, but is still healthy.

“Only time will tell if the revenue drop at Plainridge is permanent, although I suspect the September number has reset base-expected revenues for Plainridge,” Barrow said. “The decline is partly the result of competition from Tiverton and MGM Springfield, but it is primarily due to the opening of Encore Boston Harbor.

“However, if one extrapolates the $11.5 million out to a 12-month basis, that is $138 million, which is pretty close to the $140 million per year .... I originally predicted for Plainridge once all the competing facilities were up and running in Massachusetts.”

George told the commission that Plainridge still views Twin River in nearby Lincoln as its main competition.

His comments came at a commission meeting that was held in Plainville, home of Plainridge, rather than the board’s usual site in Boston.

Plainridge was the state’s first legal casino and is also home to a harness horse racing track.

In other action, the commission:

  • Approved another season of harness racing at Plainridge for 2020, running from April through the end of November.
  • Learned that Lottery ticket sales at Plainridge declined by 8.6 percent.
  • Voted to increase by 5 percent the split Plainridge receives from a 9 percent horse-development-fund tax on slot machines.

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or jhand@thesunchronicle.com.

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