Gambling revenue fell in April at the only resort casino in Massachusetts. But officials at MGM Springfield say they remain pleased with its overall performance.
Gross revenue at the gaming tables and slot machines at MGM Springfield in April was $21.8 million – down almost $4 million from the take in March.
March had been a bounce back month for gaming revenue at the state’s first Las Vegas-style casino after a winter when January’s total of $19.6 million was the lowest since the casino opened last August.
In no month has the casino hit its pre-opening projections of $34.8 million in monthly gross gaming revenue.
Addressing the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in late February, MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis acknowledged the gambling revenue was not what was hoped for.
" We are aggressively working on increasing these monthly numbers and we feel good about a lot of programs we are putting into place," Mathis said at the gaming commission meeting on Feb. 28, 2018.
In a statement Wednesday, Mathis said, “We continue to be pleased with our overall performance.”
He said bus service was being increased between the casino and Boston and New York City. Thousands of new people have signed up for the casino’s loyalty card program, he noted. Mathis said with the warmer weather months ahead there is a “robust calendar” of concerts and shows.
MGM Springfield earned $9.38 million in profits in the first quarter of this year, according to a report released on April 29th by MGM Resorts International. That figure is for the entire resort operation, including food and beverage and the hotel.
Asked at the time the report was released, Mathis cautioned against reading too much into it.
"It could certainly be better," said Mathis, who said that taking a quarterly view can be deceptive since March was a considerably better month for business at the casino than January.
In addition to looking for ways to increase revenue, MGM Springfield will also be seeking ways to cut costs, said Mathis.
" These early months, as part of the ramp up, also include getting leaner with the expense management," said Mathis.
The corporate parent is undertaking a cost-cutting plan that is to include 250 layoffs. So far, two jobs have been cut at MGM Springfield.
MGM has inked a number of partnerships with professional sports leagues in anticipation of more states legalizing sports betting.
Mathis said MGM is lobbying on Beacon Hill to get sports betting legalized in Massachusetts in time for the next football season.
" We want to make sure there is a sense of urgency because of the impact it will have on the business and for the Commonwealth in terms of keeping that business in the state," said Mathis.
But the state budget for fiscal year 2020 approved by the Massachusetts House does not include any revenue from sports betting.
As directed by Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo, the budget is based on existing state taxes and not new sources of revenue.
State Rep. Bud Williams, a Democrat from Springfield, said the House will consider a number of revenue issues after the budget is finalized.
"We want to take a good long look at it, and don't rush to judgement," said Williams. " I think you will be very pleased with what the House comes up with."
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has filed a bill to legalize sports betting at the state’s casinos and also through online platforms.