Plainridge Park Casino Patron Survey

Laurie Salame, Expert Advisor to the SEIGMA Research Team, describes the role patron surveys are playing in the study and the process the team has developed in visits to the first casino to open in the state, Plainridge Park Casino (PPC).

The SEIGMA Project is working on many exciting activities related to data collection. Our patron survey is a prime example of the ways the SEIGMA project allows experts from both the social and economic teams to work together.

As outlined in the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) research agenda, patron surveys are needed to obtain critical data pertaining to the geographic origin of revenue flowing to the new gaming venues, to assess whether patron expenditures represent a genuine influx of new wealth to the Commonwealth, and to measure the extent to which money may have been diverted from other sectors of the economy. The opening of Plainridge Park Casino (PPC) in June 2015 gave us our first opportunity to collect data from patrons here in Massachusetts.

Developing the Survey

Patron surveys will occur 6-12 months after each venue opens in order to allow patronage to “settle” and will repeat every 2 years. Because patronage varies depending on the time of day, day of the week, and even time of year, venue data collection will be split between winter and summer as well as between peak and non-peak times.

The survey represents a group effort by members of both the social and economic teams within SEIGMA. Once it was reviewed by the MGC, the questionnaire was translated and printed, as well as loaded into a program that would enable patrons to conveniently access the survey using an iPad. Unless assistance was needed, patrons could complete the surveys on their own in about five to seven minutes.

In the Field

Research Assistant Brook Frye and I led a team of students on four “field trips” to PPC during February and March (four more visits are scheduled for July and August). At the venue, from security to facilities to compliance, the PPC folks were accommodating and helpful in allowing us to take over space at each exit for our survey intercepts.

Student teams counted each patron exiting the facility and approached every sixth person with a scripted invitation to participate. Willing patrons were escorted to a table where they could privately fill out their survey. Questions included things like where they were from, what goods and services they took advantage of while on-site and off-site during this visit, other gambling venues visited, and demographic information.

The survey teams also completed a license plate count of all vehicles on-site during each of the survey visits. License plate counts have been used as a means of determining patron origin throughout New England in the past, but we anticipate obtaining a more precise estimation of origin by conducting the count concurrently with our patron survey.

With a goal of 500 completed surveys, the team is well under-way with 270 surveys completed over the winter. We look forward to our next round of visits over the summer, after which we will begin analyzing the results and seeing how they fit within the framework of the SEIGMA study.