Connecticut’s well-respected tribal casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, are facing a challenging year as they deal with lower gaming revenues and reduced EBITDA performances. These setbacks have raised concerns about the future of these famous establishments and the overall economic impact on the region.
Mohegan Sun, known for its large casino with 3,495 slot machines, 245 table games, and a FanDuel Sportsbook, reported a 5.15% year-over-year decline in gross gaming revenue (GGR) during the 2023 fiscal year. This decline was mainly due to lower gaming volumes and table hold, which affected the casino’s ability to generate significant profits.
Foxwoods, with a casino space featuring around 3,300 slots, 250 table games, and a DraftKings Sportsbook, experienced a 1.2% decrease in retail gross gaming revenue. Despite this setback, the casino managed to increase revenue in other areas, such as food and beverage, which saw an impressive 11% growth. However, Foxwoods’ hotel revenue remained unchanged.
To counter these challenges, both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have entered the world of iGaming platforms, which helped offset some of the earnings declines. Mohegan Sun’s combined net revenue was approximately $20 million lower than the previous fiscal year, partly due to the impact of iGaming. Foxwoods, on the other hand, reported a little over $177 million in non-gaming revenues, making a significant contribution to the overall financial picture.
However, despite these efforts, the financial performance of both casinos fell short of expectations. Mohegan Sun’s fiscal year EBITDA totaled $258.2 million, representing an 8.4% decline in profits, while Foxwoods’ EBITDA suffered a substantial 16% decrease from the previous fiscal year. Higher payroll costs and increased operating expenses were cited as reasons for Foxwoods’ decline.
In their effort to combat the challenges posed by the pandemic and other economic pressures, both casinos have implemented various strategies to boost their revenues. Mohegan Sun saw an almost 8% increase in sales of food and beverage, while revenue from retail and entertainment climbed nearly 4%. Additionally, Mohegan Sun’s hotel room revenue experienced a modest increase of nearly 1%, demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity.
Foxwoods, on the other hand, saw growth in its retail and entertainment revenue, which increased by 5%. However, the overall decline in EBITDA and the notable decrease in gaming revenues continue to pose a significant challenge for the casino’s financial stability.
It is important to acknowledge that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have undoubtedly played a role in the decline of gaming revenues and EBITDA performance for both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. Travel restrictions and reduced tourism have affected the number of visitors to these establishments, resulting in lower revenues and profits.
Looking ahead, the future outlook for these tribal casinos remains uncertain. While they continue to adapt to the changing gaming industry, challenges persist. The casinos must find innovative ways to attract customers back to their premises and explore new revenue streams beyond traditional gaming.
Ultimately, the success of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods depends on their ability to navigate the evolving gaming landscape and take advantage of emerging opportunities. As the industry recovers from the pandemic, the casinos must adapt their business models, enhance their entertainment offerings, and create unique experiences that will entice visitors to choose them as their gaming destination.
Currently, the Connecticut tribal casinos face an uphill battle to regain their previous levels of success. However, with careful planning, strategic investments, and continued adaptation, they have the potential to regain their prominence as vital economic engines for the state and beloved entertainment destinations for visitors nearby and far away.