I love history. I love to see how one thing begat another, which begat another.
One of my favorite books in “Roll the Bones” which, according to author Dr. David Schwartz, “explains how the human predilection for a wager shaped human history from the Ice Age to the Information Age. People spend nearly one trillion dollars worldwide on gambling a year–wouldn’t you like to learn a little about how we got there?” To read my review, click here. If I was interested in the history of gambling before I read the book, I was hooked after reading Dr. Dave’s fantastic resource
Which brings me to my interest in New England and the history of gambling in the northeast. According to the California State Library, English settlers differed from their Puritanical neighbors in New England in many ways, but one influenced the early colonies to continue traditional styles of living in a new world , which included gambling, considering as a “harmless diversion, a popular and accepted activity. Lotteries were used to bail out the Early Colonies when financial backers of the colonies began to see gambling as the solution to diminishing finances needed for the war effort. All 13 original colonies established lotteries, usually more than one, to raise revenue. Lotteries continue to be a main source of revenue for all six New England states – even Vermont & New Hampshire, states without casinos.
Well, Once Upon a time….
The Pequot and Mohegan Tribes were one tribe, but war with colonists, differences with other tribes, and different tribal and colonial alliances caused a split that continues to this day. Over 250 years later, a bingo hall in 1985 began the history of gaming in New England.
A quick little history lesson:
1992 – first New England Casino as Foxwoods opens its doors in Mashentucket, CT
1992 – Rhode Island approves VLT gaming machines (classII) at Lincoln Greyhound Park & Newport Jai Alai
1996 – the Mohegan Tribe opens the second NE casino in Uncasville, CT
2005 – Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway opens in Bangor, Maine
2007 – Lincoln Greyhound Park turns into Twin River Casino with class III gaming; Newport Grand soon follows, redesigning without Jai-Alai
2008 – MGM joins Foxwoods with additional hotel / casino
2011 – MA legislature approves Expanded Gaming Act allowing construction of 3 Resort casinos & one “slot’s only casino”
2012 – Oxford Casino opens in Oxford, Maine
2013 – MGM pulls out of it’s Foxwoods partnership
2015 – Plainridge Park Casino Opens at Plainridge Raceway as the first Massachusetts casino (slots-only)
2016 – Oxford Casino opens Hampton Inn across street
2017 -Connecticut adds joint venture Mohegan/Pequot casino in Hartford area. & Twin River Casino adds Hotel, making it the third full Resort Casino in New England
2018 – Massachusetts Region A & B Casino apoprovals Wynn Everett & MGM Springfield open.
Final Note – I should mention that casino gambling found a home in the 1800’s in Newport, Rhode Island, not to mention the numerous greyhound & horse tracks, parimutuel parlors, and Jai alai frontons in Milford & Hartford CT, and Newport, RI. However, in the past ten years, the horse-racing industry has seen a major decrease in raceway operations, Jai-Alai has moved out of the state, and parimutuel parlors continue to diminish in popularity.