Massachusetts casinos flip their script; gamble-happy pol indicted


massachusetts-casino-revenue-january-gambling-politician-indicatedMassachusetts casino market flipped its script in January, while a state politician’s gambling habit resulted in a federal indictment.

Figures released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission show a reversal of fortune for Wynn Resorts’ Encore Boston Harbor casino, which generated gaming revenue of just under $48.6m in January, a $5.4m decline from its December take.

By contrast, MGM Resorts’ MGM Springfield casino and Penn National Gaming’s Plainridge Park slots hall bounced back from their December in the dumps. MGM Springfield’s January haul totaled $20.6m, up $1.65m from December, while Plainridge Park was up nearly $900k to just under $11.1m.

Encore’s slump was entirely due to its table games, which fell by $7m to $24.4m, the property’s second-worst showing in its seven full months of operation. By comparison, its slots revenue was up over $1.5m to $24.17m, a new property record.

Encore has been taking steps to rid itself of the original ‘no riff-raff’ vibe it opened with, thanks to its glittering interior and high table minimums. Encore has continued to embrace its more downmarket sensibilities, recently parking a food truck dubbed ‘Encore Cantina’ inside its doors and a low-cost Italian eatery is preparing to make its debut.

Encore President Brian Gullbrants told the Boston Globe that the company didn’t want to “alienate a segment of the business” and that the goal was to make every customer “feel like a million bucks,” regardless of how many actual bucks they had to spend.

Hopefully, those bucks haven’t been unlawfully purloined, as State Rep. David Nangle found out Tuesday when he was hit with a federal indictment on charges of bank fraud, filing false tax returns and making false statements to his bankers. Nangle later appeared in Boston federal court where he pleaded not guilty to all charges.

According to the indictment, Nangle (pictured) had run up massive debts due in part to “extensive gambling at various casinos in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, among others,” while also placing “thousands of bets on internet gambling sites.” The indictment doesn’t specify the lone Massachusetts’ casino that Nangle patronized, nor does it identify any of the online gambling sites.

When Nangle’s annual $100k salary couldn’t meet his gambling needs, he allegedly took to dipping into campaign funds, ultimately “using the Nangle Committee bank account as his own personal checking account.”

Nangle allegedly hit a $1,221 slots jackpot at one of Connecticut’s two tribal casinos in May 2018 but quickly ran into a problem. Under state law, winnings over $1,200 need to be documented, so Nangle allegedly was caught on the casino’s security cameras paying someone else to claim the prize to keep his own name off the books.