MGM Springfield – Looking Back Three Years Ago

MGM Springfield Casino Entrance

MGM Springfield Casino Entrance

Believe it or not, years ago, when MGM Springfield wasn’t built yet, NETG looked into our crystal ball and had some random thoughts and concerns for the future.  The following post was three years ago.  Any additions will be in green italics.  Otherwise, it’s posted here as it was three years ago. How did we do with our crystal ball?


I want MGM Springfield to succeed.

There, I said it.

I want it to bring revenue for an economically needy city, I want it to be beautiful and to enhance the rundown parts of Springfield.

thI want it to be another casino jewel in New England to solidify southern New England as a gambling/tourist destination.  MGM, Wynn, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, Twin River – all large casinos with amenities to provide for vacations & stay-cations alike.

But I still have doubts to accompany the excitement of a top-class resort venue and their journey to 2018.  So here are random thoughts about the MGM Springfield project and related issues:

The original plans were impressive, but now take away the tower, lower the parking garage by two floors, and move the apartments in the opening of the video further away from the casino.  Inside, MGM Springfield looks similar to Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas (Sumerlain), with restaurants outlying the casino, and the essential “Center Bar” made so Important by the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas long ago.  It has modern looks like MGM’s latest “Aria,” but much brighter. (BTW, it’s not even close to looking like Red Rock in Nevada, except for restaurants on the perimeter)

VIDEO CLIP – MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis explains changes.   (sorry, not accessible three years later)

No free alcohol on the Casino Floor -Plainridge Park Slot Parlor

No free alcohol on the Casino Floor -Plainridge Park Slot Parlor

Will MGM & Wynn be powerful enough to influence a repeal to the “NO Happy Hour” Law in Massachusetts?  Imagine no alcohol freebies on a casino floor owned by MGM & Wynn – blasphemy! (Originally, free drinks were to be limited to non-alcoholic.  Good for all that it was changed)

MGM Atlanta

MGM Atlanta

MGM is a giant in the gambling industry and shouldn’t have any trouble separating their concerns in Macau & Las Vegas.  But their project in Atlanta, the first casino in Georgia, might be more of an interest than Springfield.  Massachusetts hasn’t been the most welcome state in the country concerning Wynn & MGM’s interests.

MLife Rewards Club of MGM

MLife Rewards Club of MGM

I’m encouraged about then East-West connection the rewards club, MLife, will provide.  Earning points in Springfield that can be used in Las Vegas & Biloxi (MGM owns Beau Rivage Resort Casino there) is exciting!  Let’s face it, MGM does own some incredible properties.  Imagine earning connections to stay at Bellagio in Las Vegas! (In fact, country connections, now including Borgata – still jointly owned with Boyd Gaming three years ago – is a huge reason fir playing at MGM Soringfield)

MGM dismisses everyone else in New England (except Wynn) as no competition. Eliminating the hotel tower is disappointing.  Yet, their “hotel on its side” plan idea is supposed to be the thing that distinguishes them from the Foxwoods & Mohegan Suns of the world.  Sorry MGM, we know you are big stuff in the gaming industry, but rationalizing a downgraded hotel as game changing in the casino industry is just insulting.  New Englanders just aren’t that naive and stupid.

MGM Springfield

New rendering of MGM Springfield’s, minus the Hotel Tower

Speaking of the comparison to Connecticut’s casinos, if the Nutmeg State’s casinos (including a third in the Hartford area) are not a threat to MGM Springfield, why the law suit, why the comparisons to CT instead of watching out west to New York State, and why say you want a casino in CT (Bridgeport) only to have pulled out of Foxwoods?  Hypocrisy I say. (Since then, MGM bought the Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway in New York. That’s only 55 miles away from Bridgeport, CT.  Also, their recent interest in buying Encore Boston Harbor showed a lack of wanting to keep MGM Springfield. MGM continues to look like PacMan – trying to gobble up everything in sight.)

Changes in design plans DO happen all the time, and rising costs are sighted as the reasons for these changes – whether it’s a Mall, housing project, or a casino.  I’m more concerned with what MGM is going to bring to gamblers.  So, MGM, I ask you – what advantage do I have spreading my money in Springfield compared to other New England options?

Poor VP Pay outs in many MGM properties. Jacks or better at 7/5.

Poor VP Pay outs in many MGM properties. Jacks or better at 7/5.

Will MGM have the same poor to mediocre Video Poker paytables that are in all their other properties?  The exception is Borgata in Atlantic City which they share with Boyd Gaming. You’re going to have to make your gambling options better if you seriously want to compete with CT & RI. (Guess we nailed that one!)images (3)I wonder what plans MGM Springfield has concerning smoking.  The options provided for smokers at Plainridge Park seem almost punitive.  Massachusetts Casino Law has the entire casino as non-smoking. (A plus to some, minus for others)

I have so many other thoughts, questions and requests concerning MGM Springfield, but they will just have to wait……….my brain hurts, time for a break.

Tomorrow its a look at Thanksgiving dining promotion at New England’s casinos. (Actually, we will re-post our 2018’s Thanksgiving Dining, Gambling and Event promotions tomorrow)

Binbin

(Thanks for going back in time with us.  MGM Springfield is still evolving.  I wonder how different it will be three years from today?)

 

 

MGM Springfield – Random Thoughts & Good Tips

MGM Springfield

I have stayed over at MGM Springfield the last three Tuesdays, in three different rooms on three different floors. You might have heard how I spent one Wednesday morning if you have heard the Art In The Game podcast by Christopher DiMauro. Here is the link for that podcast – more about the podcast at a later date.

CASINO & GAMBLING ETIQUETTE WITH ROBIN OF NETIME GAMBLING.COM

Today’s post all about MGM Springfield – the good and the disappointing.  Included here are many thoughts and tips i have found over the past three weeks.

MGM Changes for the Good

First, here are changes that MGM has made by listening to their most important people – their guests.

1. Hired more cocktail waitresses to serve you better while you are gaming. (It does seem there is a higher degree of beverage service, kudos)

2. Improved traffic flow through the garage during peak hours of operation – so you can get in and out faster.

3. Doubling the number of video poker machines on the casino floor. (Now, if only the paytables would be improved)

4. Added Top Dollar Slot machines into High Limit, per your request.(Nice addition.  This is a fun game – probably $5 denomination. Great game for community slot play with a group of players pooling their bucks)

5. Added more $10 Blackjack and Roulette tables to the gaming floor so everyone can get in on the action. (Again, Kudos)

6. Added Let it Ride Poker plus more War games to the gaming floor, because you asked for them. (Do people really still play Let It Ride?  Next they will be introducing more Caribbean Stud, too.)

7. Reduced scooter rental pricing to better accommodate our guests. (Just what is needed – more scooters in a tight slot area)

8. Lowered short-term valet prices for a more convenient experience. (Smart move, but it’s still expensive)

9. Expanded the hours of operation of our casual dining venues to better serve you.

10. More logo-inventory and cigars are now available at Essentials. (But only logo-inventory items can be bought with Express Comps)

Good Tips

The main kiosks by Tap and the Valet/Self Park doors are very busy most of the day.  Try the other kiosks around the casino.  If you’re checking in, use the kiosk outside the hotel lobby.

The hotel coffee nook has a great selection of tea as well as Starbucks coffee brewed while you wait the way you like it.  Only problem – it’s only on the 2nd floor, but can be used by all hotel guests.

The ceilings on the 3-6 floors are lower than the 2nd floor. If you want the feeling of more space, ask for 2nd floor.  Room sizes are still the same though.

Due to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission emphasis on responsible gaming, not only are the ATM’s off the casino floor, but Cash Advance it not available at ATMs or at the Cashier cage.  You can only get an advance through a debit card or check. Annoying to some, but commendable.

FYI – Resort Fees are $22.69 included even on comped rooms.

In the little store “Essentials,” which is the everything you might need store, including logo apparel, you can’t use your points to pay for anything except for MGM logo items.

Video Poker

Beware of the Triple Play Video Poker machines.  The Royal flush only pays 1500 with 5 credits played on each line instead of the standard 4000.

The new VP machines near the poker room all include a game not seen much – Triple triple Bonus poker.  It’s a 7/5 paytable with only 2 credits for 3 of a kind (typically seen in Triple Double Bonus also) which makes it a very volatile machine, but with bonuses including 4Aces w/kicker, four 2,3,4’s with an Ace kicker both equaling 4000 credits like the Royal, it might be interesting to try.

Playing Video Poker in the Commonwealth Bar has a nice touch.  But unless you are a millennial,  you’ll have to flag the female bartenders down, as I watched the guy to my left and to my right walk up after I was playing get their orders taken before me.  I guess some players become invisible – beware!

The chairs at the long bar are attached to the bar.  If you enjoy standing at times while playing the bartops, go to the Commonwealth.

Random Thoughts

Would it really be so bad to offer a bank of  Video Poker with the new machines that with 8/5 JOB?

I wonder how well the hotel rooms are really put together.  The handle for my 5th floor toilet was hanging out of the side.  Didn’t work in the morning!  This place is only three months old right?

The two self-service areas for beverages always seems to be out of something, no ice, or not working. This needs to better, especially during busy times.

The shower soaps have been downgraded in size by about 50%.  Is this another MGM “nickel & diming” moment, or just hotel service error?

The king beds all seem to have this weird pillow with half a face – kinda creepy, in an artsy sort of way.

Binbin

 

 

 

 

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!”