Monday, November 23, 2009


Slots half full: Pace of revenue decline slows
By Brian Hallenbeck

The Day

Published 11/17/2009 12:00

News of October's slot-machine revenues at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods occasioned some celebration Monday - and some caution, too.

Mohegan Sun won $62.9 million at its machines last month, down "only" 3.8 percent over October 2008, while Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods kept $54.8 million, a 4 percent decline.

"It's hard to say it's not a step in the right direction," Mitchell Etess, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's chief executive officer, said. "But I don't think we can declare victory yet."

Indeed, the relatively modest decline in Mohegan Sun's win was the lowest fall-off of any month this year. The casino's slot revenue had plummeted by 11 percent in both August and September.

For the Foxwoods casinos, October's decline followed an even more modest 2.8 percent dip in September. Foxwoods, whose owner, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, announced Monday that it expects to default on a bond interest payment in 30 days, experienced declines of more than 13 percent in July and August.

The number of Foxwoods' slots-playing customers has grown in recent months, though the average amount each is wagering has yet to return to pre-recession levels, Robert Victoria, Foxwoods' senior vice president of consumer marketing, said.

"October is a transition month, where we're going from summer into winter, but the numbers are pretty solid," he said. "November looks good so far, too."

Aside from the decline in slots revenue, the casinos' hotels have been enjoying a near-100 percent occupancy rate, demonstrating Foxwoods' enduring appeal to customers, Michael Speller, president of the Foxwoods casinos, said in a statement.

Mohegan Sun, which lost some market share to Foxwoods in September, regained it last month, claiming 53.5 percent of the Connecticut slots market.

"Compared to September, we had a lot of entertainment in October," Etess said. "Generally, when we have strong entertainment, we see good results."

Mohegan Sun slots players redeemed $4.4 million in free-play coupons in October, while just under $4 million in free-play coupons were redeemed at the Foxwoods casinos. Etess said Mohegan Sun offered more free play than usual because of one particular promotion during the month.

Mohegan Sun forwarded nearly $16 million in slot win to the state, while Foxwoods contributed $13.7 million.

Mohegan Sun held 8.19 percent of the $768.1 million wagered on its more than 6,700 machines last month, an average daily win per machine of $301.63. The Foxwoods casinos, which operate nearly 7,500 machines, held 8.63 percent of their "handle" of $635 million for a daily win per unit of $236.82.

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