Casino needs a tune-up
By Josh Resnek
The first sign everything was not going to be the way it was supposed to be with the casino was when the traffic never materialized.
Everyone in a position of responsibility had been led to believe that when the casino opened its doors, the traffic would line-up from he casino to New Hampshire!
That’s an overstatement, of course, but the harsh reality about the traffic never coming to ruin our lives being one of the missing links to the over the top success everyone thought the casino would be.
In the short term, the casino has served its purpose.
Thousands of people employed.
Many thousands coming to gamble and to stay at the five star hotel. Everett put on the map in a very big way.
The hungry city treasury and the city tendency to always spend whatever comes in at least partially satisfied by the new revenue flow, which is enormous.
What didn’t happen, however, is what is sorely missing in this $2.6 billion investment by Wynn Resorts.
What is missing are the large crowds that were expected.
The hoards that were to have descended on the casino, packing it and making of it the biggest money maker in the history of money makers is absent.
Executives are trying to figure out what works in the Massachusetts marketplace, and frankly, they are baffled about how to pack the place.
This has not happened.
Massachusetts is proving itself to be different from nearly all the states in the union.
What a surprise.
The heartbeat of the state is not controlled by the appearance of the casinos.
It is, in controlled largely by our love for the Red Sox, the Bruins, the Celtics and of course, the Patriots.
If business is slower than expected at the casinos that is one thing. When the Pats don’t make it to the Super Bowl, well, that’s another. What are we to do without the Pat’s in the Super Bowl.
How are we to spend our Sundays in late January and into February? We march to the beat of a different drummer here.
Casinos that were supposed to revolutionize the state’s income structure are struggling not to survive, rather, are struggling to maintain expected figures which are way off.
At the Springfield MGM, for instance, the president there has just been fired and replaced because of lagging figures.
At Plainridge, the slot machine income dropped by almost $4 million last month alone.
Talk about allowing the third Massachusetts casino are losing some of their zest as a new reality sets in.
It is a reality Steve Wynn could never have imagined.
It is a reality all bound up in the lack of traffic heading to the casino and tying up all our streets.
The chaos then casino was supposed to have brought to the community has been replaced by something more sobering – that casino gambling is not as popular as it was expected to be.
This is a bitter pill to swallow for a huge company like Wynn Resorts.
What is hardest to imagine or to predict, is where the casino will be in five years, that is, how will the casino be doing in five years?
Good question, isn’t it?
I am not questioning whether or not the casino is a good partner for the city.
It is an unbelievable partner, paying more than $30 million a year to the city, employing thousands, but coming up a bit short, about $200 million short of what it was supposed to be generating for business during this, its first year in operation.
Bottom line, casino gambling in Massachusetts just isn’t what it was pumped up to be.
The Lottery remains the biggest bet in the state for residents from here to the western part of the state and from north to south.
Even the casino’s basic staple, slot machines, are the weakest element in the gambling package across the board.
How can this be happening?
Nearly everyone including those rushing to get the state to allow casino gambling are now rethinking things just a bit.
I was one of those.
I believed casino gambling coming to Massachusetts was like something the state needed to be whole and for life to have added zest an intrigue.
As a money maker and tax generator, what could be better than three casinos?
Nothing, I thought.
The Encore casino is not a failure, not at all.
Its weaker than expected numbers, however, reflect a telling truth, that is, it is an uphill battle here to become the kind of success everyone was expecting.
Until the traffic is lined up to Andover for the casino, we know that something must be done – but we don’t know what it is.