Northeast Casino Saturation – Here We Go Again

“Northeast casino saturation looms in the background of MGM Springfield opening.”

That’s according to Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports. In his article on  August 21, 2018 he goes on to write, “See if this sounds familiar. At a gaming conference in Atlantic City, a panel debated the casino saturation point for the Northeast U.S. gaming market.  “There’s a finite amount of gaming revenue out there,” said one panelist. “We are in a very volatile time and we’re in a frenzy of gaming expansion. It needs to stop.”

“Those comments were made three years ago.”

We have heard this since Maine opened a second casino, and wanted a third.  It was said by opposition to the Massachusetts Casino Law.  The demise of 5 casinos in Atlantic City started saturation talk as Pennsylvania added numerous casinos.  The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is still considering keeping only three casinos instead of the original four, worried that the the additional southeast Mass. license would cannibalize Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park patronage. Rhode Island’s legislators are also concerned about the impact on Rhode Island’s Twin River and Tiverton Casinos.

Stutz writes “MGM expects to draw business from Massachusetts communities – Springfield is 90 miles west of Boston. At the same time, the property will try and poach business from Connecticut’s two large Indian casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Springfield is just 26 miles north of Hartford, Connecticut, and roughly 70 miles from the two casinos……The whole Northeast has been on a casino development streak since long before Massachusetts passed its gaming legalization plan, with casinos opening in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Rhode Island.”

Since 2015, the following has happened:

MGM National Harbor

  • MGM National Harbor opened in Maryland
  • Resorts World Catskills opened (80 miles northwest of New York City.)
  • Plainridge Park Racetrack, & MGM Springfield opened
  • Oxford Casino, Maine opened its hotel with casino expansion
  • Twin River Casino will open its hotel and has already moved the Newport Grand operation to the MA/RI state border battle lines with their new Tiverton Casino & Hotel
  • Pennsylvania approved the addition of “mini-casinos” to the 12 brick-and-mortar casinos which are raking in record gaming revenue from their existing operations.
  • New York State has added three casinos, but have under-performed so far.\
  • Resurgence and growth in Atlantic City with Ocean Casino Resort & The Hard Rock Cafe Casino Resort opening in place of the closed Revel and Taj Mahal, respectively.

Will Encore Boston Harbor, a true destination resort, with table games and other expanded amenities, be considered the final straw in the New England Camel’s saturated back?

Connecticut’s two immense resorts, Mohegan Sun Resort Casino & Foxwoods Resort Casino, are expected to feel the brunt of all this expansion. Revenues dipped in September with the opening of MGM Springfield, but no where near what was expected. Michael Pollock, managing director of casino industry consultant Spectrum Gaming Group doesn’t believe Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun will succumb to the new competition.

“The existing properties [in CT] are not without their arsenal,” Pollock told the Hartford Courant. “Both … have made significant capital investments in their properties. They have their own databases covering a huge swath of New England. They are going to be leveraging that.”  After visiting and staying at MGM Springfield, I truly feel the MGM name and its vast MLife members will be what keeps it on the cusp of being called a “destination casino.”  Next year when MGM completes its acquisition of Empire Casino and Yonkers Raceway in New York – just 15 miles north of Times Square and the heart of Manhattan – we could be discussing the “S” word again.

And then there are always the improbable, but still breathing, additions of:

First Light

First Light Resort Casino, Wampanoag Tribe, Taunton

  • Mashpee First Light in Massachusetts (although it seems to be on it’s last leg)
  • The 4th SouthEast MGC casino license in MA (delayed by MGC)
  • The MMCT joint venture for an East Windsor casino by Mohegan & Foxwoods tribes (which received a huge blow by federal court)
  • THE MGM BRIDGEPORT RESORT (CT’s gambling laws would have to be rewritten, with the state losing all of its revenue from the tribes)

A related posts you might find interesting is

“CASINO SATURATION IN THE NORTHEAST 2017” by NETG  and

“Northeast’s casino landscape growing crowded” by

Brian Hallenbeck

In Martin Derbyshire’s fascinating post for PLAYUSA.com, entitled “ARE NORTHEAST CASINOS REACHING A TIPPING POINT?” he writes, “So many casinos have been built across the Northeast, market saturation looks like its right around the corner.”

After seeing 150,000 enter the MGM Springfield opening, I don’t see the corner yet.

Binbin – “Embrace the math in Gambling, not the myth!”