Casino slot-machine revenues tanked in November, falling to levels not seen since the 1990s.
Foxwoods Resort Casino kept $21.8 million after paying out prizes, a 43.7% decline from the $36.6 million it kept the previous November. Mohegan Sun kept $28.5 million, down 37.7% from $45.8 million a year ago.
“It’s all pandemic-related,” Jeff Hamilton, Mohegan Sun’s president and general manager, said Tuesday.
While the casinos’ revenues had fallen off precipitously since the casinos reopened June 1 following coronavirus-induced shutdowns, the November year-over-year comparisons are the starkest of any month since then. Foxwoods’ November slots “win” was the lowest it’s posted in any full month since it kept $20.4 million in January 1993. Mohegan Sun’s November win was its leanest since December 1997, when it kept $27.3 million.
Clearly, the resurgence of COVID-19 is keeping patrons away from the casinos.
“Throughout the summer, there was a level of comfort, with the (COVID-19) case count down,” Hamilton said. “We were all locked in our houses and wanted to get out and do stuff. The government stimulus helped, and with air travel down, some people saw Mohegan Sun as a summer getaway, a ‘staycation.’”
In October, he said, the number of COVID-19 cases began to climb, President Donald Trump got the disease and “things changed pretty dramatically,” affecting the casino’s overall volumes, which also have suffered from a lack of convention business and entertainment offerings.
Earlier this month, Foxwoods announced it was temporarily closing some hotels and gaming areas and furloughing 130 employees due to a downturn in business.
“We’ve got to keep our head above water and with the (COVID-19) vaccine coming in the spring, we’ll get back to normal,” Hamilton said. “We’re shooting for some time in May from an entertainment perspective, around Mother’s Day, Memorial Day. We definitely believe that by late spring, early summer we’ll have some level of normalcy.”
The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, respective owners of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, are hopeful the state will ease their financial burdens by authorizing the casinos to conduct online gaming and sports betting. Comprehensive gaming legislation that would make that possible has the support of a bipartisan group of southeastern Connecticut lawmakers led by Sen. Cathy Osten, a Sprague Democrat whose district includes the tribes’ reservations.
The tribes pay 25% of their casinos’ slots revenues to the state. In November, Mohegan Sun’s payment was $7.2 million and Foxwoods’ was $5.4 million.