130115gambling0160.rA survey of more than 3,000 New England residents conducted this week by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Policy Analysis reveals some interesting facts about Massachusetts’ casino-goer trends, and possibly those of the nation as a whole.

Those surveyed spanned five New England states, minus Vermont, and were not exclusively casino-goers. Of those surveyed, however, more than half, 52 percent, engaged in some form of gambling, be it casino, lotto tickets, or betting on sports.

Not All Gamblers

The most interesting result of the survey is that of those who visited an area casino, nearly 20 percent did not gamble at all, and were presumably drawn solely by the shopping or dining available at the casino. This is a sharp increase from just six years ago when a similar survey found that just 7 percent of casino visitors did not gamble.

Among other findings, it was discovered that casino-goers are spending less money on average, and travelling less to reach their gaming destination, no doubt a by-product of the struggling U.S. economy.

“Convenience gamblers don’t care about bells and whistles, they want to play slot machines and they want to do it close to home,” said Clyde Barrow, executive director for the UMass center, who’s been overseeing the annual survey on area gambling habits for six years.

That statistic is further exemplified by the fact that only 7 percent of those surveyed had ever visited a Las Vegas or Atlantic City casino.

Survey Results Guide Casino Decisions

Stephen Crosby, chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, says the Massachusetts casino trends survey results are likely to guide the decisions of which casino development proposals will be accepted in the future. “We want Massachusetts casinos to be innovators,” he said.

That will likely mean future area casinos will need to offer a mix of entertainment options in addition to their casino games, as well as shopping and dining attractions.

That list of potential future suitors for Massachusetts casinos includes at least one major casino operator, which is said to have shown interest in purchasing a large parcel of land in Bridgewater, south of Boston, although several legal hurdles still stand in the way of the project, including a proposed Mashpee Wampanoag casino in nearby Taunton.