2017 was the year that we finally started to see the future of casino gaming in the northeast. Pennsylvania is adding more casinos. New York will complete it’s 24th casino with Resorts World Catskills in 2018. Atlantic City is showing signs of recovery with the addition of Hard Rock Casino in the former Trump Taj – and just maybe Revel will be bought, renovated and opened. And, New Jersey continues to lead the fight in the world of online gaming legislature and country-wide sports betting.
In New England, things have certainly ramped up. Only one word comes to my mind when someone mentions casinos in New England – Expansion. Expansion in Massachusetts with two new casinos by 2019, expansion in Rhode Island with a new hotel and casino in Tiverton, new expansion in Connecticut, however, at this time we still don’t know exactly how much.
So, here’s a look back at 2017 in New England – casino style.
1. MGM SPRINGFIELD
The City of Springfield, MA is preparing for a renaissance in jobs, revenue and entertainment with the opening of MGM Springfield. It’s going to be a different brick-and-mortar casino than previous MGM projects. It could be the single most important project in Springfield history, raising the Rose City up from the ashes.
2. MOHEGAN SUN CONTINUES TO DIVERSIFY AND EXPAND
Kathleen McWilliams, a reporter for the Hartford Courant, reported the Mohegan Tribe’s plan for the former Norwich Hospital site in Preston CT, (just across the river from the casino), would be made into a dozen amenities, including an indoor water park, a senior living center and a sports complex. This huge plan also includes include outdoor and indoor entertainment attractions, a large performing venue, time share units, retail, an RV park and marina. The plan includes restaurant space, a convenience store and gas station. A large project such as this is completely opposite from the trend in casino projects in size and dynamics. Not essentially connected to the casino part of the Tribe’s operations, it will be an overwhelming list for the town of Preston, CT. In addition, on the casino campus, Mohegan Sun is again expending, this time in conference space.
3. FOXWOODS 25th ANNIVERSARY
Foxwoods celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary. For 25 years, starting with a small bingo hall and the help of then Governor Weicker, Foxwoods has continued to be a country-wide phenomena. It is the largest casino property by square feet, it is the second largest casino area, and it includes the only covered, indoor Tanger outlet in the country. Gaming renovations have included two stadium gaming areas, offering $1 blackjack (3/2), and the continuation of one of the best poker rooms in the country. A more comprehensive move towards non-gaming amenities have included the addition of thrill rides, a zip line and race track for 2018, new restaurants, and additional night-club options. The celebration has gone on most of the year, with many giveaways and events. Here is coverage of New England’s first casino in 2017.
4. MAINE’S THIRD CASINO PROPOSAL FAILS
Once again, Maine had supporters for a third casino in York County. Once again, it was defeated. Maybe it was the fact that it seemed like a legislative scam, or that the backers could not be trusted. It started in February and continued along a sleazy path until it’s defeat in November.
5. MGM / CT – THE BATTLE GOES ON
Shall we really re-kindle all of the MGM vs. MMCT news? Well, it did monopolize much of the gaming news in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. I guess I have to compare it to our country’s political climate – just nasty. Then there is the possibility (little to none) of a Bridgeport Casino by MGM? or MMCT? or anyone else – as long as the CT agreement with the Pequots & Mohegans is nullified. Whoo-wee, here are the top posts concerning the I-91 Battle of the Border.
Other news included:
New Hampshire once again considered a casino, and looked into internet gaming, but nothing has yet to come of it.
Twin River Management Group finally made its plans for Rhode Island. After Tiverton’s approval of a new TRMG Casino/Hotel in it’s town, and after they had already purchased Newport Grand, TRMG will move it’s Newport operastion to Tiverton. They will also build a hotel at it’s flagship property in Lincoln, RI.
Plainridge Park Casino & Raceway, a slots-only casino, continued to make progress in attracting guests and increasing revenue.
MGM Springfield is ahead of schedule for its 2018 opening. 2017 showed major progress in Springfield’s best hope for economic success.
Wynn Boston Harbor broke ground and in progressing towards a 2019 opening with great anticipation throughout the region.
Oxford Casino in Oxford Maine, finished their hotel on the premises and added another dining option – the Ox Pub.
WOW, WHAT A YEAR!
Living in such a small part of the country with such a vibrant casino industry that is gettiing on it’s feet again after the 2007 recession certainly makes my job easy. Next year? – more expansion, more excitement, and more bickering from the Connecticut shoreline to downeast Maine. Happy New Year everybody.