Making the News

The Day, New London

Originally Published:Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Despite the disappointing December news, it isn't time to hit the panic button yet, said Michael Pollock, publisher of the Gaming Industry Observer. Despite a double-digit decline, Foxwoods still remains a major force in the gaming industry — especially with the opening of the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in May, he said.

“Bear in mind that Foxwoods is still a very profitable organization,” Pollock said.

Even the large, successful gaming properties in Connecticut, New Jersey and Las Vegas may soon begin to feel recessional pressures, said Pollock, adding that some casinos are trying to invest more in table games to attract younger, more affluent customers.

Another strategy, Pollock said, is to invest in non-gaming attractions similar to the high-end retail and restaurant properties Foxwoods is developing with its $700 million MGM Grand project and a $55 million renovation project.

“It clearly has been one of the greatest success stories in gaming in the last 15 years,” Pollock said. “As the property continues to grow ... Foxwoods is going to continue to be a major gaming destination.”


Foxwoods Slots Drop By Record $3.4 Million
December revenues down 5.7% from a month earlier

By Heather Allen
The Day, New London

Mashantucket - Foxwoods Resort Casino reported the largest month-to-month decline in slot-machine revenues in its 15-year history in December.

According to data filed with the state's Division of Special Revenue, slots revenues dropped 5.7 percent, or about $3.4 million, from November to December 2007. The December revenues were off $11.4 million from the same month in 2006.

A spokesman attributed the sharp tumble in December to weather and construction, but mainly to a promotion aimed at increasing traffic at the casino and on the property.

"It just didn't do much for us," said Saverio Mancini, spokesman for Foxwoods. The promotion included mailings to patrons and increased marketing, he said.

Increasing traffic, however, did not appear to be the problem in December as the handle, or how much money patrons pump into the slots, increased by nearly 16.7 percent. But even though patrons put $123 million more into the machines in December than they did in the previous month, the casino retained a much smaller percentage than usual.

While it usually retains between 8 and 9 percent of what patrons put into the slots, Foxwoods kept just 6.5 percent of the handle in December.

Foxwoods has not experienced a hold that low since November 1996 - around the same time Mohegan Sun opened its doors.

Mancini said promotions vary from month to month. Some have odds that benefit the casino, and others are tilted toward the players.

"It was a lucky month for the customer," he said.

The news of the decline comes on the heels of the resignation of Foxwoods President John O'Brien. According to a release issued Friday, O'Brien is leaving to "pursue other interests." The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns and operates Foxwoods, refused to elaborate or comment on O'Brien's departure.

The tribe is also embroiled in a labor dispute with the United Auto Workers union over the results of a November election in which table-game dealers voted to unionize. A hearing before the National Labor Relations Board, set to begin today, will help sort out whether the results of the vote are valid.

Both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have experienced a slide in their slots revenues in recent months, but December's figures represent the most dramatic fall yet.

A decline also means a drop in the state's 25-percent take of the slots hold. Foxwoods contributed $13.9 million in December, down from $16.8 million a year before.

Mohegan Sun is scheduled to release its slot machine-revenue figures today.

Despite the disappointing December news, it isn't time to hit the panic button yet, said Michael Pollock, publisher of the Gaming Industry Observer. Despite a double-digit decline, Foxwoods still remains a major force in the gaming industry - especially with the opening of the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in May, he said.

"Bear in mind that Foxwoods is still a very profitable organization," Pollock said.

Even the large, successful gaming properties in Connecticut, New Jersey and Las Vegas may soon begin to feel recessional pressures, said Pollock, adding that some casinos are trying to invest more in table games to attract younger, more affluent customers.

Another strategy, Pollock said, is to invest in non-gaming attractions similar to the high-end retail and restaurant properties Foxwoods is developing with its $700 million MGM Grand project and a $55 million renovation project.

"It clearly has been one of the greatest success stories in gaming in the last 15 years," Pollock said. "As the property continues to grow ... Foxwoods is going to continue to be a major gaming destination."

Slots Of Losses

TOTAL WIN $55.6M $67.1M

YEARLY CHANGE -17%

AVG. DAILY WIN PER UNIT $246.63 $300.66

HOLD 6.5% 8.45%

OPERATING UNITS 7,277 7,202

STATE CONTRIBUTION $13.9M $16.8M

Source: Connecticut Division of Special Revenue

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