Casinos Rake In Record Profits
UP AND UP
The two casinos' record-breaking months:
July 2005 slot machine win
Mohegan Sun: $80.1 million
Foxwoods: $80 million
25 percent shared with state: $40 million
July 2004 slot machine win
Mohegan Sun: $78.4 million
Foxwoods: $77.6 million
25 percent shared with state: $38.9 million
The winis the amount of money the casinos keep from the total slot machine handle. The handle is the total amount of monetary activity a slot machine gets. The casinos keep about 8 to 9 percent of the handle, and return the remaining percentage to the gambler.
In July 2005, the handle of all the slot machines in both casinos was nearly $1.9 billion.
Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun broke all-time slot revenue records in July.
The two casinos overcame a dismal spring tourist season with $160.1 million in total slot win last month -- $4 million more than last year's record. The win is revenue from slot machines after pay out of gambling winnings.
July's slot handle, the total amount bet in slot machines last month at both casinos, was $1.87 billion.
Ongoing promotions and five full weekends in the calendar month contributed to the record-breaking numbers, casino officials said.
Together, the casinos sent $40 million, or 25 percent of the month's win, to the state as part of the casinos' slot revenue sharing plan. They have sent $205 million to the state so far this year.
The two casinos' previous records were set last July, with slot machine wins of $156 million. The state received $38.9 million.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owner of Foxwoods, reported $80 million in slot win revenue in July on 7,417 machines in play, a 3.2 percent growth in business from the same month last year. The casino's contribution to the state was $20 million.
May, July and August traditionally are the best months for the casinos. Foxwoods officials attributed the latest record -- $2.5 million increase over its previous record -- to a fully opened expansion, no road construction around the casino entrance and marketing. Foxwoods scheduled about 12 major entertainment acts in July and is aggressively promoting its rewards points gas program and weekly cash giveaways.
"The one thing we are seeing ... is we do have to entice the public to come to the casinos," Foxwoods CEO Bill Sherlock said. "The more we can promote the property, the more we see the customer with repeat visitation. We've had to work very hard to get the acts in to drive the incremental visits."
The Mohegan tribe's Mohegan Sun casino recorded an $80.1 million win on 6,205 machines, about $1.6 million more than last July. Mohegan Sun also sent $20 million to the state in July.
"We were pleased," Mohegan Sun COO Jeff Hartmann said. "I wouldn't say we were surprised, but we were pleased."
The two casinos' southeastern Connecticut location also isn't hurting business. Record high gas prices have not influenced the casinos' core customer base, as more vacationers are opting for nearby, one gas-tank getaways. Nearly half of Mohegan Sun's visitors are from in-state, and the rest come from around New England and New York.
The casinos are the region's largest attractions, drawing an average 73,000 visitors per day, according to the casinos' own foot-traffic counts.
"It doesn't surprise me, judging by the traffic you have to contend with," Bonnie Larkins of Norwich said as she was walking out of Mohegan Sun Monday night. Larkins and her husband try to attend all the WNBA's Connecticut Sun home games at the casino. "The buses that were here yesterday -- it was just a phenomenal amount of buses."
Earlier this year, tourism analysts watched summer get off to a slow start with bad weather and rising gas prices. But the casinos have since reversed somber predictions. According to Eastern Connecticut Tourism District numbers, local hotel occupancy rates were at 90 percent in July, an 11 percent increase over last year.
"I just think it's interesting to see it's turned out a lot better than we thought, because spring was so flat, and even down from summer '04," Eliza Cole, Eastern Connecticut Tourism District marketing manager, said. "One of the things I have noticed, if hotel occupancy is up and it's hot, they're hanging around the hotel and using the hotel properties and not venturing out."
Casino officials are confident the July spike will lead to solid business in August.
"We're seeing August is doing well, and we're pretty comfortable," Sherlock said.