he Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) research team at UMass Amherst released a report showing the impact the state casinos have had on commercial real estate conditions within the last decade.
Covering years 2010-2020, the report describes real estate conditions in the host and surrounding communities that are home to the Commonwealth’s three casinos: Plainridge Park Casino, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor.
These findings were released by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission during a meeting on Thursday, October 21. The report examined housing and real estate conditions in host cities prior to the announcement of the respective licenses.
The findings indicate that the expansion of gambling in the state of Massachusetts has not had a dramatic effect on the local commercial real estate markets. While commercial real estate conditions in the host and surrounding communities have shifted over time, many of these shifts are in line with changes observed regionally or statewide.
The study period corresponds with a period of strong economic growth in the commonwealth in general, and in the Greater Boston region in particular. “While there are many indicators of growth in the commercial real estate market, it is difficult to attribute many of those to the casinos”, the research team indicated in their official website.
“This study highlights that while casinos in the state likely have helped to strengthen local real estate markets, the casinos also developed alongside broader robust economic recovery following the Great Recession in Massachusetts. In that, commercial real estate markets have tended to be strong in all three host communities, but we do not see any dramatic divergences from the statewide trend. That said, there are important differences in real estate conditions between host communities”, wrote Mark Melnik, leader of UMass SEIGMA Economic Team.
Nevertheless, the team concluded that, “if there was any host community could claim that the introduction of the casino has substantially changed their economic conditions, it would be Springfield”, as its downtown location puts it in close proximity with many of the area’s largest commercial real estate properties and “might affect investment decisions in the area”.
Over the course of the last five years, the SEIGMA team has periodically released reports detailing the real estate conditions in Massachusetts’ three casino hosts and surrounding communities. The purpose of these reports is to track how real estate conditions have changed over time and, when possible, determine what share of that activity can plausibly be attributed to the casinos.