The New England Gambling History begins soon after their arrival in the New World. Matter of fact, English settlers differed from their Puritanical neighbors in New England in many ways. Gambling was one way the early colonies continued traditional styles of living in a new world. It considering as a “harmless diversion, a popular and accepted activity.”
Lotteries were used to bail out the Early Colonies. 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.
The Pequot War of 1637
The Pequot and Mohegan Tribes were once one tribe. But war with colonists, conflicts with other tribes, and different tribal/colonial alliances caused a split. It was over 250 years later that same gambling influence made its presence on tribal land.
New England Gambling History Begins
1983 / 1985
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe gained legal control of their reservation and federal recognition by an act of Congress in 1983. A bingo hall in 1985 was built on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation, beginning the expansion of casino gambling in New England.
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- The first New England Casino, Foxwoods, opens its doors in Mashantucket, CT. In 1992, the tribe added table games, followed by the addition of slot machines in 1993. Despite initial plans to close the casino at 2 AM, gamblers just kept staying and gambling. Foxwoods has always been open 24/7 since that night. Quickly, the Grand Cedar Hotel was built and opened in 1993.
2. Lincoln Downs opened on July 7, 1947. At first a horse racing venue, it was sold (in debt) in June 1977 and renamed Lincoln Greyhound Park. It began its first season of greyhound racing in 1992.
In 1992, pari-mutuel handles were vdropping due to competition from the newly opened Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. Rhode Island authorized video lottery terminals (classII) at Lincoln Greyhound Park & Newport Jai AlaiFronton.
With a throng at the door by the 10 A.M, the Mohegan Tribe opened the second New England casino in Uncasville, CT. Casino officials estimated some 40,000 had passed through by early evening.
Foxwoods opens Grand Pequot Tower
Mohegan Sun completes Mohegan Sun Arena, a 10,000 seat multi-purpose arena. In addition,
the 119,000 square-foot Casino of the Sky made Mohegan Sun one of the largest gaming complexes in the world.
Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway opens in Bangor, Maine.The property became a racino when Penn National Gaming won the state of Maine’s slots bid and purchased the Bangor harness racing track. It was the first licensed slots facility in the state, and became the first casino to be licensed in the state of Maine when it added table games to its facilities in 2012.
Lincoln Greyhound Park turns into Twin River Casino with Vegas Style, class III gaming. Newport Grand soon follows, redesigning without Jai-Alai. The jai alai fronton operated from 1976 until 2003 for a total of more than 27 years.
- Foxwoods announced that they would lease the MGM Grand brand name for the new building project. MGM Mirage would be a partner in the expansion project. The expansion, entitled MGM Grand at Foxwoods, opened on May 17, 2008.
2. Mohegan expands with Casino of the Wind, more dining options and 42-table poker room.
MA legislature approves Expanded Gaming Act allowing construction of 3 Resort casinos & one “slot’s only casino.”
- Oxford Casino opens in Oxford, Maine.
2. Hollywood Bangor adds table games.
- MGM pulls out of its Foxwoods partnership.
Related Post – Foxwoods and MGM Joint Venture Ends in 2013
2. Oxford Casino – In March 2013, Black Bear Development agreed to sell the casino to Churchill Downs Inc, who currently owns the property.
3. Twin River Casino adds over 80 table games, cutting into Connecticut casinos table game traffic. This becomes the first sign of competition and saturation seen in an ever-expanding New England gaming landscape.
- Plainridge Park Casino Opens at Plainridge Raceway as the first Massachusetts casino (slots-only) authorized under a 2011 state law that also allows for up to three casinos in the Bay State named the Expanded Gaming Act.
2. Foxwoods opens Tanger Outlet Mall between the two hotel towers with 85 stores.
3. Twin River adds Poker.
The Earth Tower officially opened on November 18, 2016 as the second hotel option at Mohegan Sun.
Oxford Casino – In November 2017, the hotel, new dining venues, and an expansion of the gaming floor opened. The new name was now Oxford Casino Hotel and Events Center.
New England Gambling History – Many Openings
- MGM Springfield Resort Casino opens – More than 10,000 people entered the casino campus in the first hours after its grand opening. Before that, the festivities included a parade consisting of hundreds of MGM officials and workers, construction workers, local and state dignitaries.
2. 3. Tiverton Casino & Hotel opens – Called a “convenience” casino, this local property, which holds 1,000 slot machines and 32 table games. It officially opened to the public on September 1st, 2018.
4. Twin River Casino adds Hotel
5. Mohegan Sun opens Earth Expo Center – It has an innovative design with 125,000 square feet of contiguous, column-free exhibit space. In addition to a 20,000 square foot ballroom, it boasts 15 additional meeting rooms and pre-function areas for a grand total of 175,000 square feet.
Closings, Sports Betting and a Loss for Wynn
Newport Grand Slots Casino closes – Newport voters rejected proposals in 2012 and 2014 to add table games to the casino. Twin River Management Group bought Newport Grand in 2015. After getting voter approval to build a casino in Tiverton with table games, the company obtained state permission to transfer the license there.
6. Rhode Island approves and opens the first Sports Betting in New England – Both Twin Rivers and Tiverton casino were approved to offer single-game sports wagering. Rhode Island’s state lottery oversees sports betting. Much like Delaware sports betting, the state will work in partnership with the casinos and split revenue. Mobile betting was later added.
7. Massachusetts Gaming Commission probe – a number of sexual misconduct allegations were made against Steve Wynn. His departure from Wynn Resorts changed the name of the project to Encore Boston Harbor. it was part of an effort by Wynn Resorts to distance itself from its founder.
Encore Boston Harbor Opens – (previously referred to as Wynn Everett and Wynn Boston Harbor) this luxury resort and casino opened in Everett, Massachusetts, June 23, 2019. It was referred to as an “international entertainment destination, evoking a Las Vegas atmosphere.”
New England Gambling History – Digging Out of a Hole
New England saw proof of casino saturation as every casino, except Oxford, reported lower revenue than expected across the board.
Related Posts – What’s the Trouble With Massachusetts Casino Revenue?
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW – I should mention that casino gambling found a home in the 1800’s in Newport, Rhode Island. In addition, numerous greyhound & horse tracks, parimutuel parlors, and Jai alai frontons in Milford, CT, Hartford CT, and Newport, RI. Showed promise in the 1980’s. However, in the past ten years, the horse-racing industry has seen a major decrease, if not close to extinction. Jai-Alai has moved out of the state, and parimutuel parlors continue to diminish in popularity due to the massive addition of casino gaming.