After six months, cash pouring in at Oxford Casino

By Tony Reaves, Sun Journal
Posted Dec. 04, 2012, at 12:52 a.m.

OXFORD, Maine — Six months after opening its doors, the Oxford Casino has taken in more than $30 million in net revenues from slot machines and table games. However, plans for future expansion are still up in the air.

General Manager and Vice President Jack Sours said there are no immediate plans to build out the planned future phases, but, “There’s a lot of interest in the ownership group to expand the facility,” he said Monday. “That’s always being looked at.”

Casino spokesman Scott Smith stressed that only six months have passed since the casino opened.

Sours said the casino, which has a customer base largely within an hour’s drive, serves a “day-trip market” at this time. “We’d like to expand our footprint so that we’re an overnight market,” he said.

“I think what needs to be discussed is, ‘Is there a hotel in our future?’” Sours said.

The casino was already working on a gaming floor expansion when it opened in June. That expansion was up and running in September, bumping the number of slot machines from 529 to 819, according to the Maine Gambling Control Board. The number of table games increased from 12 to 22.

Before Maine voters decided on the casino, developers promoted a three-stage plan to be built over five years. Later additions include a parking garage and a 200-room hotel, if the market allows for it.

So far, the casino expansion hasn’t led to higher slot machine revenues. Although the casino had its best month so far in September with more than $4.7 million in slot revenues, November was one of its slowest at $4.2 million, according to figures from the Maine Gambling Control Board.

Table games have fared better, rising nearly every month since the casino opened to peak at $1.16 million in November.

Sours said that the Oxford Casino also has to be careful of too many casinos as gaming makes its way to new places. In 2011, Massachusetts passed a law allowing up to three casinos. New Hampshire is discussing allowing casinos as well.

“From an industry standpoint, we have to be concerned about over-saturation,” Sours said. He pointed to Atlantic City, where an increase in East Coast casinos has dried up traffic to the casino town, and some casinos are on the brink of closing.

Sours said Massachusetts casinos “will certainly overlap with our market,” but said at least 80 percent of customers are from Maine and customers from Massachusetts constitute a small portion of the customer base.

The casino is employing about 420 full-time workers, with another 20 openings for full-time positions.

Sours said nearly all positions are full time, with part-time jobs going to people who specifically request them.

“It’s not our business model to have a bunch of part-time positions,” Smith said.

The casino has passed on nearly $13 million in taxes to education, local government and other funds. It pays out 46 percent of slot machine revenue and 16 percent of table games revenue.

Oxford County, which receives 1 percent of casino revenues, recently approved buying 10 replacement cruisers for the Sheriff’s Office using the funds. Oxford, which gets 2 percent, has offset property taxes and begun infrastructure improvements.

“That’s a lot of money going back to the state of Maine,” Sours said. “The state really is our partner.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/12/04/business/after-six-months-cash-pouring-in-at-oxford-casino/ printed on July 25, 2014