The Lion will roar no more in Connecticut – not that it really has. Foxwoods Resort Casino is parting company with Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International, announcing the end of the licensing agreement that enabled Foxwoods to brand its second casino tower MGM Grand at Foxwoods using a six-month transition period to complete the change.
To be honest, the “lion” hasn’t really been roaring a lot in the past 6 years. Except for the terrific entertainment in the MGM Grand Theater, a few outstanding restaurants and the club Shrine, (which has seemingly changed hands), the MGM property has been underwhelming. The small casino has very little personality, and the fact that MGM had to go through Foxwoods’ Rewards Club also hampered their clientele, since MGM rewards (MLife) couldn’t be connected to other MGM properties around the country. Being able to play in Vegas and spend in Foxwoods, or vice versa, would have definitely increased popularity.
It wasn’t the best time
The tribe and MGM — then known as MGM Mirage — signed the agreement in 2006, at a time when both were eager to pursue gaming opportunities in the Northeast. MGM Grand, built next to the tribe’s Foxwoods Resort Casino complex at a cost of more than $700 million, opened in May 2008 just as the effects of the Great Recession were beginning to be felt. Here in New England, many thought, as yours truly, that this was an ill-timed mistake. But many in the gaming industry thought they were recession proof – proving to be yet another gambling myth. Originally, the “strategic alliance” reached between the parties in 2006 called for them to collaborate on projects off the Mashantucket reservation. Due to the economic downturn, other collaborative projects never materialized.
Scott Butera, Foxwoods president and chief executive officer, said Friday’s announcement was related to an ongoing Foxwoods makeover. “We wanted to consolidate our property under the Foxwoods brand,” he said.
And then there’s Massachusetts
Both parties were “mutually agreeable” to the dissolution of the Foxwoods-MGM licensing agreement, said Clark Dumont, an MGM spokesman. He noted that MGM hopes to develop a resort casino in Springfield, Mass., which is less than 80 miles from Foxwoods. It seems that MGM is quite confident that They will be chosen over the other CT casino’s interests in Palmer by the Mohegan Sun.
“With MGM working toward a significant presence on the East Coast, it was the opportune time to review our relationship (with Foxwoods) and dissolve the licensing agreement.” Recent attention to expansion into Maryland, Massachusetts, and even Great Britain presents a global expansion out of Nevada – including it’s successful casino in Macau, China.
Foxwoods, on the other hand, is also involved in a Massachusetts casino proposal. It heads a partnership seeking a license to build a $1 billion project in the Greater Boston town of Milford. However, Foxwoods has had lots speed bumps – namely community opposition and making deadlines due to changes in planning. Against Steve Wynn for the same area license, Foxwoods is definitely the underdog.
Foxwoods has made great changes and renovations, due to Butera’s national gaming experience. Let’s hope it continues. Imagine the likes of Wynn, MGM, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in a radius of 90 miles. Competition can only be good for the consumer!
That’s all for now.