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Bangor casino revenue declined in 2011; customers almost exclusively from Maine

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Patrons play poker at the Hollywood Casino in Bangor just after the the opening of table games at the casino Friday, March 16, 2012.

BANGOR, Maine — After five continuous years of growth, revenues at the Hollywood Casino dropped off for the first time in 2011 as the New England gambling market becomes more competitive, according to a new report.

The declining revenues came before the casino added table games to its lineup in March, but the Bangor casino will face increased competition in Maine starting in June with the opening of the Oxford Casino.

John Osborne, vice president and general manager of Hollywood Casino, said competition isn’t the only reason for the decline and doesn’t think it’s indicative of a trend.

Hollywood Casino’s decline in revenues, down 3.6 percent from 2010 to 2011, mirror declines at other New England casinos such as Foxwoods and Monhegan Sun in Connecticut, which both saw declines of between 1 and 2 percent, and Newport Grand in Rhode Island, which saw a decline of 6.2 percent, according to an annual study by the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

“That report is a bit misleading,” said Osborne. “The numbers for our revenues that they had, which are correct, don’t show what’s happening on a monthly basis overall, and we’re still showing year after year improvement in revenues.”

According to figures updated monthly on the State of Maine Gambling Control Board’s website, revenue rebounded during the first quarter of this year. The total net revenue for the first three months is $15,175,947.

“It’s actually one of the best first quarters we’ve ever had, and that’s only with two weeks of table games,” Osborne said. “Our revenue for January, February and March of 2010 was $14.5 million, but last year it was $13.5 for the same period.”

Mainers make up more than 95 percent of Hollywood Casino’s clientele, according to the report, and contributed about $62.5 million of Hollywood Casino’s total earnings of $65.5 million in 2011. Gamblers from Massachusetts and New Hampshire each made up about 1 percent of Hollywood Casino’s customers and contributed $577,000 to the casino’s earnings in 2011.

When asked what percentage of Hollywood Casino’s clientele is Canadian, Osborne declined to provide specific data.

“I’m really not at liberty to provide exact numbers on the makeup of our clientele,” he said.

As for the revenue drop in 2011, Osborne put most of the blame on the weather.

“Last year, we basically had one snow day for every day of the week over the winter,” explained Osborne, who said revenue increases from April through December weren’t enough to offset the decreases of the previous three months. “The 3 percent decline they show for the year basically occurred in the first three months, and it was all weather-related.”

While Mainers spent less at the Bangor casino, they spent more while gambling out of state, according to the report. Maine residents spent an estimated $34.3 million at Connecticut’s two casinos in 2011, compared to $26.6 million in 2010, according to the report.

In all, gamblers contributed more than $28 million to the Maine general treasury and to the city of Bangor in 2011 because of their gaming and related activities at Hollywood Casino, according to the report.

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