Connecticut Tribal Casinos Post Surprisingly Strong June Slot Numbers

Posted on: July 15, 2020, 11:37h. 

Last updated on: July 16, 2020, 08:23h.

Connecticut’s two tribal casinos — Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods — reported strong gross gaming revenue (GGR) from their slot machines in their first month back in operation after being closed by COVID-19.

Connecticut tribal casinos slot revenue
Connecticut tribal casinos fared well in June, as the slot machines that were on kept plenty of players’ money. (Image: Brad Horrigan/The Hartford Courant)

The Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation agreed to temporarily close their casino resorts on March 17 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. They both reopened June 1, much to the disgust of Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), who urged them to remain shuttered.

The decision to reopen was a profitable one for the tribes, which don’t have to adhere to state orders, as the casinos operate on sovereign land. Despite opening in limited capacities, and with social distancing measures and numerous health safety protocols in place, the Native American gaming venues reported a strong showing.

GGR from slot machines totaled more than $45.5 million at Mohegan Sun and $33.6 million at Foxwoods. Mohegan’s haul represents a year-over-year decrease of only three percent, while Foxwoods was down 4.9 percent compared with June 2019.

Strong Rebound

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are operating at a maximum of 25 percent capacity. Face masks are required for all team members and guests, and non-invasive temperature checks are being conducted on everyone prior to entry.

The State of Connecticut has additionally issued a regional travel advisory, which requires anyone traveling into the state from certain areas to self-quarantine for 14 days. Twenty-two states are currently on the advisory list. Foxwoods is not allowing anyone from those states access to its resort.

Despite the seemingly difficult business environment, June’s numbers were better than most expected.

“Folks have been locked up for a little while and they want to go out, but they’re uncertain as to where they can go and be safe,” Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment CEO Mario Kontomerkos told recently. “They now know our facilities are safe and they are coming and they are enjoying themselves.”

Under their state gaming compacts, both tribes share 25 percent of their slot revenue with the Connecticut government. In June, Mohegan Sun delivered the state more than $11.3 million, while Foxwoods wrote a check for $8.4 million.

Back to Work

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods reopening brought thousands of workers back to their jobs.

Butler said the tribe has welcomed back approximately 2,000 employees who had been furloughed. Foxwoods employs over 6,700 people. Mohegan Sun has welcomed back 3,000 workers. Its total payroll consists of some 7,000 positions.

Lamont said the June 1 reopenings weren’t worth the risk. The state placed warning signs along roadways near both tribal casinos ahead of their reopenings that read, “DON’T GAMBLE W/COVID. AVOID LG. INDOOR GATHERINGS.”

The governor announced last week that bars will remain closed past their scheduled July 20 reopening. That could lead to more people traveling to the two Connecticut tribal casinos to have a drink with friends.

Lamont said in late May, “If you want to open up your casino safely, I would strongly recommend let’s not do alcohol up-front.”