Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Two Casinos' November slots revenue down from year ago
By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published 12/16/2009 12:00

Slot-machine revenue at the region's casinos was down last month, if only slightly in the case of Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods, both owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe.

The Foxwoods news, considered relatively good given the recession's yearlong drag on the casinos' income, came on the eve of the Mashantuckets' expected default on the balance of a bond interest payment that was due Nov. 16. The tribe made a partial payment of about $14.2 million on that date and indicated it did not expect to pay the remaining $7 million due by the end of a 30-day grace period.

The tribe provided no statement Tuesday regarding today's expected default.

While the Foxwoods casinos' November slots "win" of $53.7 million was only 1.4 percent less than the total for November 2008, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reported that Mohegan Sun's November win of $59.6 million was down 10.8 percent over the same month a year ago.

Both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun had reported year-over-year declines of about 4 percent for October.

"We had no more shows in November than in October, so we think it's our recommitment to providing five-star service," Robert Victoria, Foxwoods' senior vice president of consumer marketing, said of the casino's slot numbers. "We're trying to give our clients a little extra, and we're seeing a bump up in visitation and a little more spending per visit."

Victoria said Foxwoods officials were encouraged by the "flattening" in the year-over-year decline in slot revenue and by the prospects for improving the casinos' market share.

Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan authority, acknowledged that he was hoping for no worse than another single-digit decline in slot revenue in November but said it was best to consider October and November results together in judging performance.

"If you look at the handle (the total amount wagered on slot machines), we're only down 4.4 percent for the two months combined," he said. "You'll also see that our slots are a little looser (than Foxwoods').

"We're very happy to command the high market share that we do considering the many more (hotel) rooms at Foxwoods and their somewhat more liberal use of free-slot play."

In November, Mohegan Sun's slots win amounted to 52.6 percent of the Connecticut market; Foxwoods' share was 47.4 percent.

Figures released Tuesday showed that Foxwoods patrons redeemed more than $4.3 million worth of free-play coupons in November, while just under $3.5 million in free-play coupons were redeemed at Mohegan Sun.

Mohegan Sun held, or kept, 8.14 percent of the $732.2 million wagered on its 6,709 machines last month for an average daily win per machine of $296.08. The Foxwoods casinos, which operated 7,451 machines, held 8.69 percent of their handle of $618.3 million for a daily win per machine of $240.28.

Mohegan Sun forwarded nearly $15 million in November slot win to the state, while Foxwoods contributed $13.8 million.

Last week, Atlantic City's 11 casinos reported a 13.4 percent decline in November gaming revenues, which followed two consecutive months of somewhat encouraging single-digit declines. In November, slots revenue was down 9.5 percent while table-games revenue was down 21 percent, according to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

Connecticut's casinos do not regularly report their table-games revenue

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