Mass. officials note small drop in lottery sales near Plainridge Park Casino
By Colin A. Young, STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON — With about three weeks worth of data in hand, Massachusetts Lottery officials said Thursday that they have already noticed an impact on state Lottery sales from Plainridge Park Casino.
Plainridge, which offers slot machines and electronic table games, opened last month and Lottery officials have been monitoring sales at the 200 Lottery agents within a 15-minute drive of the Plainville facility, Interim Executive Director Michael Sweeney said.
"We are still seeing strong numbers at retail agents such as convenience stores and gas stations that carry our products. Where we're seeing some early decreases in that zone are in more of your restaurant, bar, lounge-type of places," Sweeney said. "In that particular region within a 15-minute radius drive, lottery sales are positive but they're not at the same level of strength as the area immediately outside of there."
Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who chaired a meeting of the Lottery Commission on Thursday morning, said she and the Lottery team will be keeping a very close eye on the impact Plainridge has on the Lottery, particularly as other casinos come online in the next few years.
"When I'm watching television and I see Plainridge's ad, I cringe," Goldberg said. "But when the big-branded names come in and they really start to throw those ad dollars behind it, that's when we really need to pay attention."
The treasurer said that, though Plainridge is competition to the Lottery, she likes the fact that it will arm the Lottery with plentiful data it can use if it needs to illustrate a need for a larger appropriation from the Legislature.
"As someone who comes out of a competitive business, when you see your competition approaching you, you don't wait until it impacts you, you proactively own the marketplace," she said. "In terms of accessing increased capital from the Legislature, we're going to have to show them data that we are being impacted. That's why we are monitoring Plainridge very, very carefully, because it will give us initial data that we can access and then move forward."
Any decrease in Lottery revenue would mean that less money would be funneled from the agency to cities and towns across the state -- the Lottery expects to return $983.5 million to the Commonwealth from last fiscal year. Reduced sales could also harm the small businesses that serve as Lottery agents, Goldberg said.
"They are solid, middle-class business owners but they work on very tough margins and we're an important element to them," she said. "Not only in their commissions, but more importantly in the traffic flow that they get into their stores and selling their other products. We drive a lot of that business."