NETG Idle Thoughts: The New England Casino Industry in Ten Years

Once upon a time, in 1968, “Circus Circus” on the Las Vegas strip was the new gem, Jay Sarno’s follow up Casino to his 1966 masterpiece “Caesars Palace.”  This was before Steve Wynn took the Strip by storm, with Mirage, and themes became the big push in expanding Las Vegas Boulevard.  Imperial Palace was still a decade from being built, let alone the themes of Excalibur & Luxor of the 1990’s.  Yes, Circus Circus was the extraordinary.  “Introducing Circus Circus, the most exciting casino in the world!” Clarence Hoffman said as he opened the doors for the first time of this new concept in casinos – The football field sized casino and big top with a casino for all ages.  To separate the gamblers from children as required by law, a second level contained midway games and attractions in view of the circus acts.  What a spectacle!

And now, approaching 50 years in service to gamblers and families alike, Circus Circus finds itself as a bottom-feeder, a low-end casino on the worst end of the Strip.

Yes, things change.  The best is eventually out done by someone else.  The old established becomes the “Has Been.”  Imagine the likes of Excalibur & Luxor who began the great expansion of Las Vegas casinos are now considered value properties – below the great & plentiful resorts now found on the Strip in 2015.

What does this have to do with New England Casinos?  It’s the circle of casino life.

In the next ten years, we are looking at the once mighty tribal casinos of Connecticut out done by the new kids – the Massachusetts duo of MGM Springfield, Wynn Everett, and possibly the resort trifecta with New Bedford.  The question is, will they re-invent themselves, of go the way of Circus Circus – still alive, but lower on the casino food chain.  The state of Connecticut certainly won’t let them go the way of the Riviera on the Las Vegas Strip, which closed it’s doors this week.  Why not?  Too much money at stake – just like Rhode Island – too much dependence on gaming revenue.

But, as the late infomercials go, “But Wait, there’s more!”

Will the next cycle be the doubling of casinos in New England followed by the “Atlantic City Effect?” – too many to stay financially afloat, with  some closing, only to find less properties in the business.  Ah, then prosperity begins again.

Here’s a guess at the peak number of prospective casinos in New England (prospective, but not probable)?  Let’s take a look for laughs and giggles:

  • CT – 2 tribal resorts, and 3 tribal “satellite” casinos = 5
  • RI – 2 casinos, both under the name of Twin River Casino, Hotel & Resort = 2
  • MA – 3 casino resorts, 1 slots-only parlor, 1 tribal (Wampanoags) = 5
  • NH – 2 casinos = (don’t count on it, although I expect it brought to legislature at least two more times in the next ten years) = 2
  • VT – yes, even Vermont has been questioning keeping its revenue in the state, since threatened by MA & NY = 1
  • ME – 3 casinos, all expanded to small resorts and 2 tribal (Maliseets & Passamaquaddys) = 5

thThat’s a total of 20 casinos in an area close to the size  of Washington state.  And some say it’s already saturated. Geez……..

I can’t wait to see it all happen before my eyes.  Here are my thoughts – please comment what you think, or join the NETG Facebook community and gives your thoughts after looking into your crystal ball.

  1. Which casino do you think will be the Caesars Palace of New England – the long, historical quality resort? 

  2. Which will become the Aria or Cosmopolitan of New England – new, glitzy, high quality and meeting the needs of young and old – mostly young?

  3. Which will become Circus Circus of New England – worn, tired, low-end of the New England Casinos?

That’s all for now.