Connecticut, for the first time in 15 years, is collecting more money from the state lottery than from slot machines at the two Indian casinos.
Note to Massachusetts as it plans its first casinos in western Massachusetts and Greater Boston: Adjust your expectations.
In Connecticut, lottery revenue is on the rise — slightly. Payments to the state's general fund totaled $312.1 million, an increase of $2.1 million over the previous year.
But that news was overshadowed by the continued declines at the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos. This year, the casinos sent $296.4 million to the state, a drop of almost $48 million from fiscal 2012.
The reason for the downturn is obvious: out-of-state competition. Connecticut's two casinos formerly drew many gamblers from casino-less New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Now, recently opened gaming venues in South Ozone Park and Yonkers, N.Y., as well as Lincoln, R.I. , are siphoning off customers.
This competition will certainly increase when Massachusetts OKs regional casinos and a slots parlor.
Connecticut's luck is beginning to run out. The trend is evident.
Benjamin Barnes, secretary of the state's Office of Policy and Management, has pointed out that the $600 million total annual take from gambling is "not even in the top five" of revenue sources for Connecticut, which has an annual budget of $20 billion. True enough, but $600 million isn't chump change, either.
Weaning budget-makers even a little from their addiction to gambling revenues will be difficult, but the latest figures show that it is necessary for the state's health.