Real Estate Market Surrounding Massachusetts’ First Casino Improves, Study Finds

Specially assembled group releases report on the economic impact of Massachusetts’ first commercial gambling property

The real estate market surrounding Massachusetts’ first casino-style gaming venue has improved since its opening in the summer of 2015, a researcher said during a Thursday public meeting of the state Gaming Commission.

Plainridge Park Casino was launched in June 2015, following the legalization of Las Vegas-style gambling on the territory of Massachusetts in the early 2010s. The facility is located in the town of Plainville and features slot machines and no table games. It became the state’s first commercial property to offer gambling options. State lawmakers and gaming regulators approved the construction of two other casino venues as part of their gambling expansion effort. MGM Resorts International launched its $950-million integrated resort with a full-scale casino facility this past August, while Wynn Resorts is currently developing a $2-plus-billion property in the Greater Boston area.

The specially appointed Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) unit has conducted a study on the impact of the Plainridge slots parlor after its opening, the results of which were presented to state gaming commissioners on Thursday. SEIGMA’s 15-person team believes there has been a certain improvement in the real estate market in the region surrounding the gaming facility.

However, Henry Renski, a University of Massachusetts Amherst professor of regional planning, pointed out yesterday that the SEIGMA study could have been impacted by other factors in southeastern Massachusetts. The scholar went on to explain that a lot has been happening in the region in the past several years, with the recent rebranding of the Xfinity Center, the Patriot Place shopping center being located just an exit away, and with the nearby Wrentham Outlets. He said they “found that the casino complements other destinations in the area” and that “together, they become a magnet”.

Future Research on the Impact of MGM Springfield

The MGM Springfield integrated resort opened doors in August in downtown Springfield. According to data from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the property receives around 25,000 visitors during weekdays and around 50,000 visitors during the weekends. It generated gross gaming revenue of nearly $9.5 million during its first month of operation.

The SEIGMA team said Thursday that the Plainridge study will be used as a template for a study on MGM Springfield. It also became known that the study on the impact of the recently opened casino resort has already begun. SEIGMA members expect that there will be enough data to release their report in about a year from now. They further pointed out that they would not stop with the publication of that study and that they would keep on monitoring the impact of the property on the surrounding region and the state as a whole and to report on it to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Since being assembled in 2013, the group has been studying the impact gambling expansion would have on safety, housing, employment, behavior, and other important factors. In 2015, the SEIGMA members began publishing profiles on the communities that were to host a casino in the coming years. Springfield, for example, was marked as an economic hub for the western part of the state, with an unemployment rate of around 11% and descending property value.

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