MGM Says Initial Attendance, Revenues Strong for New Casino

Attendance from MGM's nearly $1 billion casino in Massachusetts is exceeding expectations, and revenues appear strong nearly a month after opening, MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis told state regulators Thursday.

Mathis and other MGM officials updating the state Gaming Commission said the hotel, casino and entertainment complex is averaging around 50,000 daily visitors on weekends and about 25,000 daily visitors during the work week since its Aug. 24 opening.

The company's early projections estimated around 15,000 to 20,000 visitors daily to the 14-acre (5.5-hectare) facility, which is the first of its kind in the state.

Mathis said revenues have been similarly strong, but he declined to cite specific figures.

The state Gaming Commission is expected to release its monthly casino revenue report Monday. The state collects 25 percent of the facility's gross gambling revenues.

MGM had projected four years ago that it could generate roughly $500 million a year from its casino. But Mathis cautioned Thursday not to draw any quick conclusions from early revenue figures when they're released.

"Nothing meaningful, in our view, can be taken from such a short window,'' he said.

Mathis also told regulators the casino is exceeding most of the hiring targets set out in its agreement with the city of Springfield.

That includes hiring at least 35 percent of its staff from the city. Springfield residents currently comprise nearly 38 percent of its employees, Mathis said.

The only target MGM isn't meeting is for women on staff. About 46 percent of its employees are female, but its target was 50 percent, he said.

MGM is also working with the city to meet its commitment to providing at least 54 market rate housing units downtown as part of its investment, Mathis said.

But a new challenge that has emerged since the casino's opening is unattended minors on the property. Casino officials are finding that some parents leave their children in other parts of the casino while they go off and gamble, Mathis said.

MGM, in response, has imposed new rules, including a requirement that children under age 16 be accompanied by an adult, wherever they are on the property.

The company has also imposed a curfew. No one under 21 will be allowed in the resort after midnight, with the exception of hotel guests and patrons of the casino's movie theater, which opens later this month.

State Gaming Commission Executive Director Edward Bedrosian, meanwhile, told regulators Thursday his staff needs more time to complete its investigation into Wynn Resorts, which is building a nearly $2 billion casino across from Boston, slated to open next year.

Commission staff members had been expected to wrap up their investigation this summer.

They're looking into how the Las Vegas company handled allegations of sexual misconduct against founder Steve Wynn that surfaced this year.

Wynn resigned as chairman and CEO but denies the allegations. The company also renamed its casino in Everett from Wynn Boston Harbor to Encore Boston Harbor.

Bedrosian said the Massachusetts investigation, which could result in sanctions for the company, is in its final stages, but didn't say when it might be complete.

MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis told state gambling regulators Thursday that the hotel, casino and entertainment complex is averaging about 50,000 daily visitors on weekends and about 25,000 during the work week.

He said revenues have been similarly strong but declined to cite figures as they're expected to be released Monday by the state Gaming Commission.

Mathis said the casino is also meeting or exceeding most of its diversity hiring targets. But he noted the casino has had to impose new rules to deal with unattended children on the property, including a curfew for minors.

MGM Springfield opened Aug. 24 and is the first of its kind in the state.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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