What a year 2019 was. Encore Boston Harbor opened and mobile sport betting became a reality in Rhode Island. New Hampshire approved sports betting. But lower than expected casino revenue was seen in every state. Many questions still remain for 2020. That’s why today we look at Casino Gambling in New England 2020, state by state. Part 1 today looks at Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Part 2 will cover Connecticut, Rhode Island and, yes, even Vermont.
New Hampshire – Casino Gambling in New England 2020
New Hampshire sports betting became legal in July 2019 after legislators passed the enabling bill earlier in the year. The state launched mobile NH sports betting recently with a six-year contract with the sports betting company DraftKings. With their headquarters in Boston, Draft Kings will open an office in New Hampshire. DraftKings will operate up to 10 sports book locations in New Hampshire where fans can submit wagers. BetNewHampshire, a new website, follows gambling in the Granite State. It covers NH Sports Betting, NH Online Horse Betting, and NH Casinos. These Charitable casinos offer gambling services, such as bingo, slot machines or lotteries with players encouraged to donate funds with the prospect of potentially winning a prize, usually of monetary value.
Related Post – Charitable Gaming in New Hampshire and Vermont
Massachusetts – Casino Gambling in New England 2020
This state has been in the middle of just about every piece of gambling news in New England. Somehow, either the Massachusetts Gaming Commission or the casinos themselves make decisions that impact all states it borders. Even thinking they have a say in other state’s decisions. Massachusetts has become the epicenter of New England gambling – or so it thinks.
Encore Boston Harbor
Let’s start with Encore Boston Harbor, or should we say Las Vegas East? The Boston/New England casino market is “wicked” different from Wynn’s desert destinations. Brian Gullbrants, Encore’s new president made changes lately with the patron’s interest in mind. Check out ‘We were wrong:’ Encore Boston Harbor drops $50 table game minimums, paid parking.
January reported the final 2019 results. Encore Boston Harbor reported its best month ever — an improvement from $47 million in November to $54 million in December. But, this is still below expectations. Occupancy was 76%, so room rates have tumbled lately to $110. Making EBH accessible to everyone and not an obvious tilt to the high roller will be their challenge. Encore “Bahstin Hahbah” must become more acclimated to the northeast to be the “wicked pissa” it hopes to be.
Of all the casinos to misunderstand its place in the New England casino landscape is MGM Springfield. When it opened, it was to be the big draw. It was considered the next destination casino, or resort. It was going to make the Connecticut tribes pay for taking all that money away from Massachusetts residents. Why? Well, after all, they are MGM. It was this arrogance and entitlement that hindered its first year’s revenue, far below expectations.
But, the future looks better, especially for the visitor. Lowered minimums such as $5 tables, better rules like 3:2 Blackjack on all tables are only a few examples of positive changes. In addition, adding a mini VIP lounge. and taking out over 300 slots has made for a more comfortable experience. Downtown Springfield hasn’t seen excitement like this in years. Residents, realtors and businesses are pleased with the growth downtown so far.
It is time for MGMS to improve its product based on its real identity – a high quality locals casino/hotel. NETG will look at this in a future post.
Plainridge Park Raceway & Casino
Penn National has a problem on its hands. It owns the two most unsuccessful properties in New England – Hollywood Casino & Hotel in Bangor, ME and Plainridge Park Casino & Raceway in Plainville, MA. However, the slot parlor’s owner is thinking longterm when it purchased 36% interest in Barstool Sports, positioning it to be a big player nationally in the expansion of sports betting. Penn National CEO Jay Snowden reported that “This exciting new partnership with Barstool Sports reflects our strategy to continue evolving from the nation’s largest regional gaming operator, with 41 properties in 19 states.” Penn’s two New England properties are not in their top producing properties.
PPark showed the lowest revenue recently, dropping below marks not seen since its opening in 2015. All this with the most generous slots in the state last month, paying out 92.66 percent. Plainridge Park has had a positive impact on Plainville and the surrounding region.
Competition from Twin River Casino & Hotel in Lincoln, RI (just ten minutes away) has table games, almost 3X the number of slots, sports betting and a hotel. Only two things will save this quaint slot parlor from its downward trend – table games and sports betting. Expansion for table games should be priority. State Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, and others local officials have filed legislation that would allow the commission to approve of live table games. Unfortunately, Penn National is yet to comment, as well as the MGC. And what about sports betting in Massachusetts?
Sports Betting in Massachusetts
According to MassLive, “a suite of sports betting bills, including one (H 68) filed last year by Gov. Charlie Baker, was included in an extension order filed seeking permission to keep working on the bills through Friday, Feb. 28.” The race to sports betting is crucial. Whoever is first between CT & MA will ultimately reap the huge expected benefits of sports betting. “Those sound like three very simple things, but we’re looking at what New Jersey does, now what New Hampshire is doing, we’ve looked at Rhode Island, we’ve looked at Las Vegas,” Rep. Michael Soter told WEEI host Mike Mutnansky.
Casinos would not be the sole outlet of sports betting. The Lottery, additional outlets, and casinos would share the pie. But there are still questions whether it will be approved in 2020. Notoriously know for cautious legislation, Massachusetts is watching RI, NH, and Las Vegas so it’s “done right.” That said, the Commonwealth of MA and CT are two of a possible 10 that could legalize in 2020.
Maine – Casino Gambling in New England 2020
There are a lot of gambling related issues going on in Maine. For the two approved casinos – Oxford Casino & Hotel and Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway in. Bangor – it seems like status quo. However, Oxford makes almost double the revenue Bangor makes. But news recently opened the possibility of sports betting in Maine. The state Senate voted 20-10 Thursday to override Gov. Janet Mills’ veto of a bill to legalize sports betting. That bill would legalize sports betting at the two casinos, plus mobile and online betting. The bill would allow 11 regular gambling properties to apply for licenses to operate brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in site of their properties. 4 Native American tribes would also be able to operate sportsbooks.
Earlier in the year, Maine considered proposals to open the state’s first tribal casino. According to Casino.org, “The Passamaquoddy tribal representative to the legislature, Rena Newell, urged members of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, to open a casino, and reduce friction between the tribes and state officials.” One option is to let multiple tribes offer table games and slot machines at an as yet unnamed location. It would be at least 50 miles away from Maine’s two existing commercial competitors: the Hollywood Casino in Bangor and the Oxford Casino & Hotel in Oxford. Besides the Passamaquoddy, participating tribes could include the Penobscot Nation, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. But the representatives from the state’s two existing commercial casinos, as well as the local business community, have both opposed the initiative.
We at NETimeGambling, will let you digest all of this before we release part 2. If you have questions or insight into New England Gambling, email me, Binbin, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember – “Embrace the Math, Not the Myth”
Bin, Bert & Miguel