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It’s official – the site for the only slots parlor in Massachusetts will be at Penn National’s Plainridge Racecourse, the harness track in Plainville, MA. Penn National president and CEO Tim Wilmott said the project will create 1,000 construction jobs and 500 new permanent jobs when it opens in the second quarter of 2015. It’s closest competitor is Twin River Casino only twelve miles away in Rhode Island.

Do you remember that just a year ago, Penn National had proposed a casino complex in Springfield but lost out to MGM early in the western region battle?  MGM is the only remaining contender for the Western Massachusetts license.  Oh, by the way – this would be the second New England casino owned.  The first? – Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway in Maine.  Mr. Steve Wynn criticized Mohegan Sun for having more than one casino in New England.  Where is he now and why haven’t we heard the same?  (Maybe Mohegan Sun poses more of a threat to his existence in New England )

But back to the first gambling license awarded – Penn’s Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville. The planned slots parlor will include 1,250 slot machines as well as a Doug Flutie-themed sports bar, a high-end restaurant, and a four venue food court. Harness racing will continue at the track, though it will be renamed Plainridge Park Casino after 106,000 square feet of food, entertainment, gaming, and retail amenities are added to the property.

Hey, what about competition from Rhode Island?  “We know a lot of [Twin River’s] revenue comes from Massachusetts,” said Willmott. “We have a great location right off Interstate 95 and Route 1, and we think we’ll offer a much more convenient location for Massachusetts customers to visit us and not have to go into Rhode Island.”

Yet, the tables games at Twin River does open up more chances for revenue.  It takes lots of slots players playing at low or medium levels to compete with table games players.  High level Bacarat is the game of choice around the world these days, and seems to be THE game keeping the Las Vegas Strip afloat. Table games shown on the Vegas Strip to continue to bring in more revenue. Bacarat has more money wagered on it than all other games in Vegas Strip casinos because of of it’s low house edge.  And 3-Card Poker brought in an amazing 30% of the take on the strip.  Couldn’t these games do the same for Twin River’s new competitor in Plainville?  Twin River hopes it can.

But Twin River isn’t the only competitor in the region.  Foxwoods is still in the race for a casino in Fall River, not so far away.

The Gaming Commission spent much of this week debating the relative economic merits of the slots parlor proposals in Plainville, Leominster, and at Taunton-Raynham Park in Raynham, the former greyhound track.  In the end, Plainridge won out.  Now we know the three areas for the Massachusetts casinos – Springfield, Boston-area, and Plainridge.  The Fall River entry vs Wampanoag  is still in question and should pan out soon.

I’m still wondering why a slots-only parlor?  Will it still succeed, even thought the pressure on Newport Grand Slots continues to threatens it’s existence without table games?

Hmm………….more to come.

That’s all for now.

Binbin

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