Plainridge Park Has Big Month, But Can It Compete With Wynn And MGM?

Plainridge Park Casino fell short of early revenue estimates, but the small-scale slots parlor is building momentum in the otherwise sleepy town of Plainville, Massachusetts. July 2017 was the casino’s second-best month to date in terms of gross revenue. Only July 2015 performed better, which just happens when the Penn National Gaming-owned casino first opened its doors to the public. Top line numbers for Plainridge Park Casino
Plainridge tallied $15.5 million in revenue last month.
The casino’s slot handle was just shy of $200 million, at $194.6 million. Since opening its doors, Plainridge Park has seen over $4.2 billion wagered.
The casino reported a payout percentage of 92 percent for its slot machines during the month of July.
The total tax assessment for Plainridge Park – which incurs a tax rate of 49 percent on slot revenue – was $7,566,627 in July. Of that, $6.2 million were state taxes, while another $1.4 million went to the Race Horse Development Fund.
During its two-year history, Plainridge Park Casino has generated $166 million to the state in tax revenue. Where Plainridge Park’s taxes go The total tax obligation of Plainridge Park Casino is 49 percent. Plainridge sends 40 percent of its revenue to the state as taxes. That money is earmarked for local aid, such as the new town hall project that recently broke ground in Plainville. The other nine percent of its tax obligation, which amounted to $1.4 million in July, goes tothe Race Horse Development Fund. That money subsidizes Massachusetts’ struggling horse racing industry. A boon for the MA horse racing industry Before the state pumped casino money into the horse racing economy, the industry in Massachusetts was on life support. Ironically, one of the key beneficiaries of the money Plainridge Park is pumping into the RHDF is Plainridge Park. Long before it was a casino, Plainridge Park was a harness racing track. It is a heritage it continues to this day. In fact, live harness racing is experiencing a “revival,” according to the Statehouse News Service. Increased casino foot traffic at the property as well as the RHDF money helped spur the revival. That resulted in an increase in the number of live racing days and the size of the purses at Plainridge Park Casino. According to local reports: Two more casinos are on the way Two resort-style casinos are under construction in Massachusetts, but opening day isn’t too far off. MGM Springfield will open in September 2018, while Wynn Boston Harbor is eyeing the fall of 2019 for its official ribbon-cutting. The amount of revenue being Plainridge Park generates will be a drop in the bucket when measured against the yet-to-open MGM Springfield and Wynn Boston Harbor. However, the amount of money each casino will pay in taxes won’t be all that different. According to Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby, the state will receive about $300 million in tax revenue annually when all three casinos are operational. Crosby’s estimates are based on MGM and Wynn contributing $75-$100 million each. Plainridge Park should rise to around $80 million, due to its steeper tax obligation. Because it’s a slot parlor, Plainridge pays 40 percent on gross gaming revenue. By comparison, the state will tax Wynn and MGM at 25 percent of gaming revenue. All three properties will be on the hook for the nine percent earmarked for the RHDF.

Why Simulcasting Might Be Holding Horse Racing Back In Massachusetts

Simulcast racing will continue at three Massachusetts facilities after Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill extending simulcast racing laws for another year. Baker’s signature extends the simulcast agreements at Plainridge Park Casino, Raynham Park, and Suffolk Downs until July 31, 2018. Baker signed the bill over the protestations of the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. The pro-racing group believes the continuation of simulcast racing is the only thing keeping the doors of one of the facilities, Suffolk Downs, open. Until the facility is closed, live thoroughbred horseracing won’t return to the Commonwealth. Racing in Massachusetts Massachusetts has three racetracks, but only one of them is currently operational: Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, Massachusetts, a harness racing track. The other two tracks, Suffolk Downs in East Boston and Raynham Park in Raynham, operate almost exclusively as simulcast facilities. Suffolk Downs fate sealed by casinos Suffolk Downs was a strong contender for one of the state’s casino licenses. However, when the Massachusetts Gaming Commission awarded the license to the Wynn Boston Harbor project, the facility all but ended live racing, cut its staff, and is more or less an off-track-betting parlor. Raynham Park last vestige of a bygone era Raynham Park, a former dog track, ended live racing after Massachusetts outlawed dog racing in 2008. The facility now operates as an off-track-betting parlor. But that might be changing. Plans for Raynham Park The Stronach Group, the largest racing company in the US which runs tracks like Santa Anita and Pimlico, has its eyes fixed on Raynham Park. The group would like to reopen it as a thoroughbred horseracing track. The company’s interest most likely has to do with:
The overall lack of live racing in Massachusetts
The state’s 2011 casino law, which provides subsidies to the horseracing industry The Race Horse Development Fund With only Plainridge Park contributing, the Massachusetts Race Horse Development Fund already holds $13.5 million. This fund has led to increased live racing at Plainridge Park Casino. Local publication The Enterprise elaborated on Plainridge Park’s success: When MGM and Wynn open, they will pump even more money into the RHDF. This could explain Stronach’s interest in repurposing Raynham Park, and bringing more horseracing to Massachusetts. Stronach wants assurances before committing to MA Stronach says it wants assurances that Massachusetts would be a favorable environment. That seems to include the end of simulcasting at Suffolk Downs, which holds only a handful of racing days. For their part, Suffolk Downs finds this argument lacking. Suffold Downs submitted testimony to the legislature, which included the following: Essentially, before it makes an investment in Massachusetts that includes thoroughbred racing, Stronach would like to see Suffolk Downs, which is about 40 minutes away from Raynham Park, end simulcast racing, and permanently shut its doors. In addition to Suffolk Downs offering simulcasting without having to offer live racing, another fear could be the money sitting in the RHDF might entice the Suffolk Downs owners to increase live racing days, which would be more direct competition to Stronach’s planned Raynham Park project. With the Governor signing the simulcast extension, Stronach’s interest in Raynham Park will likely put on hold until next year.

Bristol Community College Prepping Students For Casino Success

With one casino open, and at least two more on the way, Massachusetts is going to need workers to fill key roles within the industry. One place the triumvirate of casino corporations in Massachusetts – Penn National, MGM, and Wynn – will begin searching for employees to fill specific roles is Bristol Community College (BCC). Back in June, BCC became the first Massachusetts school to receive its Gaming School Certification from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. With Massachusetts emphasizing local hiring’s, BCC graduates will have a good chance at landing at one of these Massachusetts’ casinos. When it received its certification, MGC Chairman Steve Crosby said: MGC Director of Licensing Paul Connelly added: CATCH program is now up and running BCC has since launched its Culinary Arts, Tourism, Casino, and Hospitality (CATCH) casino management program. This program consolidates some of BCC’s premier areas of study under one program. It specifically targets jobs in the casino and tourism industry. The new Casino Management program at BCC prepares students for positions in the following areas:
Culinary Arts: Prepares students to work in entry-level positions in a variety of food service operations in non-food preparation positions.
Tourism Management: Prepares students for a broad variety of entry level positions in the tourism industry.
Casino Management: Prepares students for a variety of positions within a full-service casino, including the ability to deal two table games.
Hotel Management: Prepares students for a variety of positions within the hotel, motel, hospitality, and cruise-ship industry. BCC’s catch program requires students to complete a core curriculum at the school’s Fall River campus. After that, they move into a specialized area, such as:
Casino Operations
Casino Loss Prevention
Gaming and Social Policy
Introduction to Casino Games Specialized courses will be taught at the recently opened BCC Taunton classroom and casino training lab. “Under CATCH, you will receive an education and invaluable real life experience in all of the disciplines of the Institute,” the BCC website states. “You will graduate from CATCH as a well-rounded professional ready step into the casino floor, the kitchen or hotel office.”

Plainville Is Getting A New Town Hall Thanks To Plainridge Casino

The anti-casino crowd will often turn up in the comment section of any article on gaming. They cynically ask where all the money is going, or what it’s being used for. In the case of Plainville, Massachusetts, there’s no mystery surrounding where a big chunk of the Plainridge Park Casino money is going though. On Monday night, about 100 residents of Plainville and a few local dignitaries were on hand to break ground on a new $34 million municipal complex. The new facility includes will include a town hall and public safety building. Funds collected from Plainridge Park Casino are paying for the project. Plainville sorely needs the new buildings. The outdated existing town hall and public safety building are too small to service the town. It will also remove a local eyesore. The project is going on a vacant site and an unused school that will be torn down to make way for the new municipal complex. Economic boon for the area Plainridge Casino’s benefits extend beyond just a new town hall. Plainridge Park Casino opened its doors in June 2015, when Plainridge Park Racecourse added the casino (1,250 slot machines). The property previously only offered live harness racing and simulcast racetrack. Despite the usual doomsday scenarios, the casino has been extremely beneficial to the local economy. In its first 12 months the casino paid “$75 million in taxes to the state, $4 million in taxes and fees to the Town of Plainville and created more than 500 jobs,” according to The Sun Chronicle. Additionally, The Sun Chronicle points out unemployed people occupied a quarter of those positions. After two years, Plainridge has generated $325 million in slot revenue alone. No adverse effects on the lottery Nor has the casino hurt existing gaming in the state, also known as the Massachusetts Lottery – one of the state’s prize possessions. As part of its Social and Economic Impacts Of Gambling In Massachusetts (SEIGMA) study, a report by the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences states: Crime concerns were way overblown In another report titled, Assessing the Impact of Gambling on Public Safety in Massachusetts Cities and Towns Analysis of changes in police data after the first year of operation at Plainridge Park Casino, by consultant Christopher W. Bruce, put fears of a casino-induced crime wave to rest. In his report, Bruce concluded:
In the first 12 months of activity, Plainridge Park produced crime and call figures commensurate with similarly-sized regional facilities.
There were few significant increases in crimes in the surrounding area.
Most significant increases were traffic-related activity: complaints, collisions, disabled vehicles, and suspicious vehicles.
There is some evidence of increases in economic crimes (credit card fraud, con games) tied to the casino’s presence.
Further studies are needed with full comparison datasets for crime and traffic collisions when data is available in 2017. Upshot In the not too distant future, Plainville residents will get a glimpse at what they voted in favor of every time they drive down Route 1a. They will also see it anytime they need to get a dog license or pay their water bill when they head to the new town hall. And it will be thanks to Plainridge Park Casino.

Massachusetts Lottery Is Cracking Down On Fraudulent Ticket Cashers

There are a small group of people who seem to have the lottery figured out. Some people are cashing 20 or more winning tickets in a year, and banking over $20,000. This is something the lottery keeps track of and calls the 20/20 list, which it sends to law enforcement and tax collectors. There are three explanations for landing on this list:
These players are buying a lot of lottery tickets
They’re on the right side of variance
They’re cashing winning tickets for the real winners. The final explanation is the most likely, and the Massachusetts Lottery is starting to take steps to crack down on ticket cashers. From here on out, cashing in more than your fair share of winning tickets will not only land you on the Lottery’s radar and the 20/20 list, it may prevent you from claiming future prizes. The MA Lottery’s new policy A new policy detailed by Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeney on Wednesday places a soft-cap on the number of significant winning tickets a person can claim. The new policy takes effect on Oct. 1. According to Statehouse News Service (paywall): Players are able to appeal the decision. “We are going to be more proactive in this area … to make sure things are on the up and up,” Sweeney said. “This is the Lottery increasing our due diligence in protecting the games and the consumers.” Ticket cashing 101 Ticket cashing for someone else seems like a win-win in most situations, but it’s highly illegal. Some lottery winners who want to avoid taxes may offer a low-income acquaintance a percentage of the winnings if they cash the ticket for them. So, instead of getting whacked at 39 percent at the end of the year, they might pay someone 5 or 10 percent of the prize to cash the ticket for them. That person may not have to pay any taxes on the winnings, depending on their income. Other winners may pay a ticket casher substantially more, and this is where the practice becomes disturbing. Undocumented residents and anyone with outstanding warrants, child support payments, or taxes are just some of the people may not want to show up at lottery headquarters to claim a substantial prize. They may pay through the teeth to avoid doing so, as it’s the difference between collecting something or nothing. Ticket scams a bigger problem than you might think Ticket cashing is nothing new, but just how big a deal is it? Bigger than you might think. It’s not just a few people doing their friends and family a solid a few times a year. According to Statehouse News Service, people aren’t simply cashing in 20 tickets in a year, some people are cashing in 20 or more tickets a week: The article also notes another person on the Lottery’s list has claimed 609 prizes of $1,000 or more in 2017. As Sweeney noted, the amount of winning tickets some people are claiming “strain credulity.” And that is putting it mildly. According to Statehouse News, the odds of winning $1,000 on one of the lottery’s new $10 tickets is 1-in-2,087. That means a person would need to buy, on average, 2,087 $10 tickets (at a cost of $20,870) to win a single prize of $1,000. To be clear, that’s not their return, as they will win plenty of smaller prizes too. A player cashing in 936 tickets from January 1 – July 31, like Jaafar, would require them to purchase about 2 million tickets. That works out to over 9,000 tickets per day, scratching them at a clip of 6.4 tickets every minute, 24 hours a day, non-stop. This wouldn’t be an issue online Massachusetts is toying with the idea of allowing online lottery sales, and ticket cashing is one of the many issues the lottery faces that wouldn’t be an issue online. Because each player has to register an account, every winning ticket can be traced to the person who purchased it. Unlike an anonymous ticket purchased at a brick and mortar lottery retailer, when you show up at Lottery headquarters to claim a prize you won online, they already know who you are.

MA Attorney General’s Anti-Online Gaming Argument Just Doesn’t Make Sense

Online gaming supporters are accustomed to dealing with misinformation campaigns, hypocritical stances, and exaggerated what-ifs from the anti-online crowd. We’ve seen it all: everything from web ads featuring terrorists trotted out by the Sheldon Adelson-backed Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, to the hyperbolic fears of underage gamblers, to the roundly rejected claims of land-based cannibalization. Well, at least we thought we’d seen it all. Usually, these attacks come from people and groups with obvious agendas. That isn’t the case when it comes to the most recent critic of online gambling, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. The recent stance taken by the attorney general is one of the most astounding cases of a willfully ignorant online gambling double standard to date. The most troubling aspect is it’s coming from the pulpit of a highly respected office. You can’t have it both ways First, let’s not look past the fact that it was Healey who crafted the current regulations on daily fantasy sports (DFS) in Massachusetts. Healey doesn’t have any qualms about DFS being legal, or the efficacy of the regulations she drew to protect DFS customers, yet she somehow doesn’t think “consumers can be adequately protected if gaming opportunities proliferate on the internet.” This is according to Assistant Attorney General Dan Krockmalnic. Krockmalnic made the comment during a July 31 meeting of the Massachusetts Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports, just before abstaining from voting on the final proposal. What Healey and her office don’t understand is DFS and online gaming regulations are an apples-to-apples comparison. The regulations that would protect online casino and online poker players are the same regulations that protect DFS consumers. Both industries require:
Age, identity, and location verification
Following federal anti-money laundering procedures
Implementing responsible gaming policies
Instituting third-party audits to ensure game integrity and player fund segregation If the attorney general doesn’t trust online gaming safeguards, she can’t trust DFS safeguards. They are one in the same. Her position is akin to saying consumers can trust helmets will protect kids on bicycles but not on skateboards. Regulated online gaming sites have better consumer protections Healey also falls into the trap that has ensnared so many anti-gambling people: conflating regulated and unregulated gambling. As noted many, many times, opposing regulated online gaming is the same as supporting the status quo in Massachusetts, which is unregulated online gambling. It’s unregulated sites that are the real problem. The Massachusetts AG falsely believes the state cannot regulate online gaming despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. This evidence includes annual reports from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, including this one, which states, “From a regulatory standpoint, our system is working.” But if the AG requires more evidence that regulated online gaming works, we can help out:
Geolocation failures are infrequent and minor, and these failures were caught and fixed.
Online gambling does a better job than land-based casinos when it comes to preventing underage gambling. Here’s a look at the safeguards in place.
Regulated sites that have gone belly-up repaid players immediately. That’s not even close to what happens at unregulated sites, where players are lucky to ever recoup their account balances. I would ask the AG precisely what proposed online gaming regulation she doesn’t trust. If there was systemic abuse or faulty consumer protections, Adelson and anti-online gambling groups would be trotting it out at every opportunity. The reason they don’t is because the industry is regulated well. Healey is not a fan of gambling So why would Healey make such a sweeping, generalized critique of online gambling? It may be that she simply doesn’t like gambling. During her 2014 campaign, Healey was publicly in favor of repealing the Massachusetts casino law passed in 2011. There’s nothing wrong with that, but disparaging an industry she morally opposes isn’t something I expect from someone in such a prominent position — a position where getting facts straight is of the utmost importance. If the AG is against online gaming so be it; but promoting false concerns about an industry through the power of her position as the chief law enforcement officer in Massachusetts is reprehensible.

MA Commission Loves Online Gambling, But Wants To Take Things Slow

The Massachusetts Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports unveiled a draft version of its findings and recommendations during its final meeting on Tuesday. Play MA has obtained a copy of the draft. The report is all-encompassing and offers multiple recommendations. The commission is expected to submit a finalized version to the Massachusetts Legislature on Monday, July 31. Key findings and recommendations After multiple hearings and discussions during the last eight months, the nine-member commission came to the following conclusions:
“Online gaming” should be defined broadly to encompass all manner of online games (including DFS).
The legislature should work to balance regulation with innovation. Additionally, it needs to develop a robust framework as to how all online gaming should be governed, taxed, and regulated.
Rather than legalizing all online gaming at once, the legislature should retain oversight on which parts of online gaming should be legalized. In reaching those conclusions, the commission recommends:
Permanently legalizing and regulating DFS under the classification of online gaming.
Slowing discussions about legalizing other forms of online gaming until the state’s land-based casinos are open for business. Legalize on a case-by-case basis The commission is recommending the legislature “proceed with caution” when it comes to legalizing online gaming. In fact, it recommends making all online gaming illegal. Then the state can legalize and regulate on a case-by-case basis. “The Special Commission recommends that online gaming be illegal, but that there be game-based exceptions that may be legalized by the Legislature and regulated and taxed appropriately,” the report states. The report goes on to explain the commission’s reasoning for supporting the legalization of DFS. It also justifies the commission’s cautious approach to online casino games: It’s all gambling Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the report is the recommendation of a broad definition of online gaming. This is something Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman and Special Commission member Stephen Crosby has long advocated. In the report, the commission pushes for the following definition of online gaming: Essentially, a wager of any kind in any online format constitutes online gambling, regardless of skill. This definition eliminates the possibility of DFS-esque legal battles over skill and luck and whether a new product fits into the gaming box or needs a new classification. If the legislature adopts the commission’s recommendations, it would all be classified as gaming in Massachusetts. Benefits of online gaming abound Even though the commission didn’t advocate for legalizing online gaming beyond DFS at this time, the report is very favorable to online gaming. The report lists five benefits of online gaming:
Tax revenue
Reduction in illegal activity
Safety of online operations Here’s a closer look at what the report says on each of these topics. Tax revenue Jobs Reduction in illegal activity Transparency Safety of online operations These problems are not real problems The report also rebuts the three core arguments of online gaming opponents:
Underage gambling
Problem gambling
Cannibalization Underage gaming The Commission notes that “online gaming provides for numerous safeguards against this behavior that are absent in brick-and-mortar facilities.” The report goes on to explain that the requirements to protect against underage gambling can be tightened or relaxed based on the concern. Moreover, anything from dual-step verification to personal data verification can be implemented. Problem gaming The report is more concerned with problem gambling. “Given the recent adoption of online gaming, it will be critical to require any legalization effort to include requirements for the study of any associated problem gaming,” the report says. However, it also points out “online gaming provides an environment that can be completely controlled from the perspective of setting funding, betting and time limits on any associated play.” It also argues the ability to collect data will “be invaluable to researchers on problem gaming to the extent it was made available.” Cannibalization of existing games “Another argument that has been raised against the legalization of online gaming is that doing so will result in the cannibalization of casino profits,” the report says. “Online gaming does not appear to cannibalize offline gaming.” The report goes on to cite copious research (here, here, and here) as well as the firsthand experiences of casinos in New Jersey to set the record straight.

Another Legal Plot Twist Keeps First Light Casino Faint Hopes Alive

As we’ve reported in the past, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s attempts to build a tribal casino in Taunton have produced more plot twists than M. Night Shyamalan.
The The Department of the Interior (DOI) placed the tribe’s land into trust in September 2015, paving the way for the tribe to build a casino.
A group of Taunton residents filed suit and won their case. This brought construction efforts to a halt.
The tribe appealed the ruling (a case it later dropped). It requested the DOI reexamine its land in trust application on different grounds.
The DOI planned to rule on June 19, but delayed the decision until June 27.
Expecting the decision to go against it, the tribe withdrew its request on June 26.
Days later, the DOI rejected the tribe’s request and reopened the case. It expects to rule on it in the fall. Since our last update, yet another plot twist unfolded. A bill in Congress, introduced by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), aims to make it easier for tribes federally recognized after 1934 to take land into trust. It does so by “fixing” the language the DOI uses to determine if a tribe can have its land placed into trust. At the core of the issue is a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that requires most tribes to have been federally recognized prior to the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934. The Carcieri Ruling, as it’s become known, is the centerpiece of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s casino travails. According to the bill summary, it would effectively overturn the decision and clarify the Indian Reorganization Act: The fix is sorely needed Fixes of this sort are nothing new. The 2009 ruling has widespread impacts on Indian country. Legislatures introduced multiple bills to redefine the Indian Reorganization Act in order to extend land-in-trust status to any federally recognized tribe regardless of when it was recognized. At the heart of the matter is the undefined phrase “under federal jurisdiction.” In Carcieri vs. Salazar, the court determined they meant under federal jurisdiction in 1934 — when the law was written. But critics of the decision would argue that a common-sense reading simply means under federal jurisdiction. The ruling has been the bane of several tribes trying to better their communities. Land in trust is not just a casino issue Not every tribe is in an area where a casino would make sense. With that in mind, putting land in trust isn’t simply a casino issue. As Kirk Francis, chief of the Penobscot Nation in Maine, said at a recent Congressional hearing on Cole’s bill:

Massachusetts Commission Giving Full Endorsement Of Online Gambling This Week?

Massachusetts might authorize a smorgasbord of online gaming in 2018. That is, if the Massachusetts legislature heeds the advice of the Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports assembled last year. The Commission is scheduled to meet on Tuesday morning in order to discuss the draft language of its final report. According to Statehouse News Service (paywall), the Commission could very well vote on the report during the meeting. The Commission has until July 31 to submit its finding to the legislature. This then gives the legislature a full year to hash out a bill before the daily fantasy sports (DFS) regulations passed in 2016 sunset. The current regulations are set to expire on July 21, 2018. Commission likely to recommend a comprehensive approach By all accounts, the Commission is going to recommend a comprehensive regulatory approach towards online gambling. That would include:
Installing permanent DFS regulations
Authorizing online casino and poker games run through the state’s casinos
Giving the Massachusetts Gaming Commission the ability to deal with new, non-traditional online gaming products on a case-by-case basis Does lottery need to go online first? However, the legislature is likely going to have to deal with online lottery before it turns its attention to online gaming and DFS. The Commission purposefully left online lottery off the agenda. As Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg said last month: Can Massachusetts get it done in 2018? Even by state legislature standards, Massachusetts tends to move very slowly. This is particularly true when it comes to an issue like gambling. That being said, the need to craft DFS regulations prior to the July 2018 deadline, and developments in other states may help push Massachusetts across the finish line sooner rather than later. Pennsylvania is exploring a similar omnibus online approach. It already has a bill in the hopper that would legalize and regulate online gambling and DFS. The bill would also authorize the state to take its lottery online. Some version of the bill is expected to pass this year. Even closer to home, the New Hampshire legislature recently authorized online lottery and Keno sales. New Hampshire’s actions will almost certainly accelerate progress in neighboring Massachusetts. After all, many Granite State residents routinely went to bars and restaurants across the border to play keno.

MA Casinos Can Keep The Party Going Until 4 AM With New Liquor Laws

Massachusetts isn’t a “dry” state. However, if you want a drink after 2 a.m., you’re pretty much out of luck. In most parts of the state, last call is at 1 a.m. Thanks to a provision in the latest fiscal budget, there will very likely be two places that serve alcoholic beverages after 2 a.m. in the not too distant future: the state’s casinos. Because of that provision, when MGM Springfield opens in 2018 and Wynn Boston Harbor opens in 2019 they’ll be capable of procuring a liquor license from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. That license will allow them to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. There is a mandated four-hour blackout period from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. The extended hours doesn’t apply to the sale of beverages at restaurants or bars inside the casino. In fact, the sale or distribution is restricted to “patrons who are actively engaged in gambling.” Per the fiscal budget: Another reason to go to MA instead of CT The decision to extend alcohol service hours will give Massachusetts casinos a leg up on their closest competitors in Connecticut. Both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods stop alcohol service at 2 a.m. A spokesman for the Massachusetts House’s budget-writing committee told as much. He said the provision is designed to “help maximize the potential of the gaming industry in Massachusetts” and “ensure competitiveness.” Of course, the move by Massachusetts may spur on a similar change to hours of alcohol service in Connecticut. MGC can deny request The state is allowing casinos to serve alcohol after 2 a.m. However, the MGC will determine a casino’s liquor hours on a case-by-case basis. “If a licensee makes a request to extend drinking hours pursuant to the amended statute, the Commission would expect to conduct an extended public discussion on the issue and hear from a full range of constituencies, but at this point no such request has been made,” Massachusetts Gaming Commission Communications Director Elaine Driscoll told WWLP 22 News. MGM Springfield plans to file such a request. The casino is hoping to serve alcohol from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. as well as offer comp drinks on the gaming floor. Also speaking to WWLP, MGM Springfield spokesperson Carole Brennan said: Some casinos may not apply for extended liquor hours Plainridge Park Casino is a slots parlor located in Plainville, Massachusetts. It is also the only casino currently open in Massachusetts. The casino reached an agreement with the town that it would stop serving alcohol at 1 a.m. That puts the casino in the same boat as the town’s other establishments. Nonetheless, state law permits some establishments in Plainridge to serve until 2 a.m. According to the Attleboro Sun Chronicle, Plainridge Park reached the agreement after Plainville Police Chief James Alfred raised concerns that local bar goers might flock to Plainridge during the 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. hour to get another drink or two before heading home. Plainridge Casino says it has no interest in changing its agreement with the town, even though it would now be able to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. Alfred did say that resort casinos are a different ball of wax. After all, people tend to stay on site and aren’t drinking and driving. Whereas the Plainridge Casino doesn’t have a hotel, so pretty much every customer gets in their car and drives home.