Plainridge Park Casino – A Mini Trip Report

I hadn’t visited Plainridge Park Casino & Raceway in a while, and there had Irish dining specials, so the NETG crew set out to Plainville to get our “green” on.

Plainridge first opened to the public on June 24, 2015 as the first Massachusetts casino as approved by the Expanded Gaming Act on November 22, 2011, signed by Governor Deval Patrick. It was to be a “slots-only” property. Penn National Gaming won the license and became the only company to own two casinos in New England – Hollywood Bangor in Maine being the second. Recently there has been a push for the addition of table games to improve pending competition with Encore Boston Harbor, Tiverton Casino & Hotel & their neighbor Twin River Casino & Hotel, just ten minutes away.

First Take

We arrived at 1:30, ahead of our 2:00 reservation at Slack’s Oyster house and Grill for their advertised “Corned Beef & Cabbage Special,” (more on that later).  As we walked around the casino on a very busy day due to additional slot play offered and it was St. Patrick’s Day on a Sunday, we noticed a few changes.

  • The High Limit Slot area had been moved to where the it’s essentials store was. A wall now separated the area from the rest of the casino as you walk in the main entrance, giving the entrance a certain claustrophobic feel across from the Marquee Rewards (going to be myChoice Rewards soon). However, the High Limit room is nicely done, and the rest of the casino flows more without it inserted inside the lower denomination slots.
  • The essentials store has now been moved further towards the raceway side of the property.
  • Electronic craps was taken out, and only two electronic roulette multi-seat games remain.

    Electronic Table Games - No dealers, no fun.

    Electronic Roulette Games at Plainridge

  • Dunkin Donuts is now the coffee vendor of choice, and Smashburger has been added.

Second Take – Dining Snafu

Plainridge says it wants you to experience “hometown hospitality.”  But it’s not very hospitable  to changing specials and not admit it.

When we arrived at Slack’s Oyster house and Grill, our waitress (who was wonderfully understanding, BTW) told us the special was Irish Beef Stew and the Corned Beef Special was the day before. She did tell us that it was being served at Fluties 22, their sports bar. With little wait, we sat down to a delicious Irish meal, Irish bread and all, for $10 less!  While it worked out well, NETG has always found Penn National’s websites for both New England casinos underwhelming, inaccurate, and late in terms of changing their monthly promotions.

The Gambling

We all had a little free slot play, and I brought a measly $40 as well.  Off I went to find the best bang for the buck with a small bankroll. As all of you can attest, sometimes the best decision is not made – but the outcome is beyond any of your expectations. 

I decided to play electronic 3 Card Poker.  I don’t usually play this table game with real dealers, so why this with a virtual dealer? At $5 minimum, I certainly wouldn’t suggest it, but I sat down anyway. As the luck of the Irish would have it, the Irish eyes were smiling down on me that day.

After a few lucky hands holding even at the minimum bet of $5, I decided to play the sucker bet.  The Pair Plus bonus was also $5 minimum. After hitting five flushes, four straights, and a straight flush, I walked away 30 minutes later with $500.  Just like that, my opinion of virtual dealers and electronic / stadium games changed!  Seriously, I do realize that this result is not the norm, but it sure made my day……heck ,my month!

We left having had fun, enjoyed a great meal, and some of us (c’est moi!) even made money. We did enjoy the trip and would recommend it. Elvis even entertained on the Revolution Stage.

Did Elvis have the luck of the Irish? The singer’s great-great-great-great-grandfather was Irish (true fact!).

Fact is, you don’t need the luck of the Irish to enjoy a visit to Plainridge Park Casino & Raceway.

Binbin – Embrace the Math, not the Myth!

Will Plainridge Park Casino Survive Without Table Games?

Table Games Anyone?

With all the attention on MGM Springfield, the Connecticut casinos and the Wynn – oops – I mean Encore Boston Harbor, the first casino in Massachusetts is getting a little forgotten in the mix.

Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, the state’s first (and for almost three years only) legal gambling establishment, wants to expand and offer table games as well as the slot machines they currently feature.  The last three years have been progressively better until the past months when most of New England’s casinos saw a decrease in revenue from a year ago.

All the negative expectations have been proven wrong to this point, especially the fear it would have a negative impact on Plainville and neighboring communities and it would attract an “undesirable element.” Many claimed it would not provide the expected revenue. Instead, Plainridge has been a great neighbor, large employer and good corporation to work with the MGC and the State of Massachusetts.

Penn National, owner of Hollywood Bangor Casino Hotel in Maine, as well as many casinos and racinos across the country, knew being first with a slots-only establishment would have a major drawback – not having real blackjack, craps, roulette and other table games. To this point they have successful at every turn. It is greatly supported by locals and others in 20 mile radius that prefer a smokeless casino with only electronic versions of tables games.

Here Come the Big Guys

MGM Springfield opened with a bang – but it is over an hour and a half away, so not much of threat to Plainridge. The Rhode Island casinos continue to be a threat to Plainridge Park Casino, now with the addition of sports betting. But the real menace over the hill is in Everett – Encore Boston Harbor.

New casinos in Springfield and soon in Boston will fight any such move for tables games at Plainridge vehemently. They invested in this process understanding the rules. And they didn’t put their millions or billions of dollars up with the idea that competition beyond what they were promised would be allowed.

Any expansion to table games by Plainridge would need state legislative approval. Getting the Massachusetts Legislature to do virtually anything is a monumental task. And this area is not exactly known for its political influence. Town officials in Plainville, North Attleboro and Wrentham have come out in favor.

Entrance To Plainville’s Good Neightbor

Jim Hand of the Sun Chronicle reported “In letters to the state Gaming Commission, Plainville, Wrentham, North Attleboro and Franklin officials said they would support allowing table games and more slot machines at Plainridge, terming the changes “a modest expansion……The expansion at Plainridge would require a legislative change, as it is designated as only a slots parlor and not a full-blown casino under state law.”

State Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, who represents Plainville, said he is on board with the request. “We have an ongoing venture that is working extremely well with virtually no negative impact on the community,” he said. “The community wants it. And the addition of other games will help us compete against Rhode Island which just built another casino on our border.”

Recently, Plainridge Park has seen a dip in revenue, as most of the eight New England casinos. Clyde Barrow, a casino researcher at the University of Texas Rio Grand Valley, said, “A drop in revenue is to be expected, just as Plainridge cut into the take at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I.  I anticipated a 1 percent to 5 percent drop in Plainridge revenues as a result of the Tiverton casino, so I would say the lower September revenues are directly attributable to the new competition,” he said.  However, such a small loss suggests that Plainridge remains competitive and doesn’t have much to fear from Tiverton Twin River Casino.”

A Quiet Acquisition

Penn National Gaming, Owner of Plainridge Park Casino and Raceway

Penn National Gaming, Owner of Plainridge Park Casino and Raceway

As reported by Marc Meltzer from PlayUsa, “Penn National Gaming acquired Pinnacle GamingThe massive $2.8 billion deal makes Penn National Gaming one of the largest casino corporations in the country. The new Penn National Gaming may not have the largest casinos in the country. However, the new deal means that they will operate more casinos and racetracks than any other company in the US. After the acquisition, Penn National Gaming will operate more than 40 properties in 15 states.”

Mr. Meltzer also comments about the rewards club change due to the buy out. “While Penn National Gaming will be the owner of the properties, they will actually be using the loyalty club from Pinnacle Entertainment instead of their own Marquee Rewards. In 2019, the Marquee Rewards program will be migrated over to the mychoice players club.”

For more information provided in Marc’s post, go to PlayUSA or click here on PENN NATIONAL GAMING PLAYERS CLUB MOVING TO PINNACLE’S MYCHOICE CARD

The Draw

Plainridge has done well for itself and has built a nice locals clientele. But it’s future may be bleak and for Massachusetts’ expected revenue if it continues as a slot-only property.  I’m sure we will hear more as we turn the page to 2019.

Binbin

 

 

 

Marquee Rewards – Plainridge Park & Hollywood Bangor Rewards Club

Penn National Gaming, Owner of Plainridge Park Casino and Raceway

Penn National Gaming, Owner of Plainridge Park Casino and Hollywood Bangor Casino, Hotel & Raceway

 

In the 7 New England Casinos, we have 6 distinct Slot/Rewards clubs two of which are under Penn National’s Marquee Rewards – Hollywood Bangor in Maine, and Plainridge Park in Massachusetts.  Marquee Rewards has five tiers (levels) – Marquee, Celebrity, Producer, Executive Producer, and Icon.

TravelZork briefly explains “Penn National Gaming (PNG) is a national casino operator similar to Boyd Gaming and Caesars Entertainment. PNG is actually an international casino operator as one of their twenty properties is located in Canada (here’s the list of locations)…..The lack of transparency at the Tropicana isn’t a surprise. Not all Penn National properties offer the same rating so you will earn Tier Points and Marquee Comps differently at different casinos. Likewise, Tier Points and Marquee Comps may be earned for table games play at some Marquee Rewards locations.”

Here are some basics for Marquee Rewards.  Statistics are based personal experience and search,  vpFree2, and Penn National casinos webpages.

Marquee Rewards connects to Penn National casinos across the country

Accruing Points – Penn National owns many casinos across the country, and this has produced regional differences. After checking casinos under the Penn National ownership we have found that the following entries from Plainridge Park (Hollywood Bangor was unavailable, but I assume higher due to lack of competition).

  • $1 Coin-In = 1 Point
  • $2 Coin-in = 1 Point (VP) / $10 Coin-In = 1 point in other PennNat casinos.
  • Comps Only, Free Slot pay,

In other casinos:

  • Rate varies based on ADT but is .05% or less on video poker.
  • Bounceback Cash: In some
  • Discretionary Comps: In few
  • Marketing Comps: Yes

Obviously, when companies buy properties, they must deal with previous players club expectations.  All NETG can suggest is try to tracking your points, and ask casino management, if you dare.  Many casinos just won’t give you a good answer.

NOTES worthy of mention:

The obvious advantage to PNG’s Marquee Rewards is the coast to coast connection of the Players Club.  Playing in Massachusetts  or Maine and accruing points for your next visit to Las Vegas with benefits equals the other national gaming operators in New England, such as the newcomers with MGM Springfield & Wynn.

Las Vegas – Penn Nationals Tropicana & M Resort

Tier points are accumulated and tier status awarded on a fixed six-month basis, January 1 through June 30 and July 1 through December 31.

You can spend Marquee Reward points at most PNG properties.

Multiplier Days include different multipliers for different card levels: Marquee = 2x, Celebrity = 3x, and so on.

75,000 Bonus HollywoodCasino.com Credits on your Birthday. (Check if your casino takes part in this and if the # of points is the same)

Personal hosts, Preferred parking and VIP lounge access for player and guest, are only for Exce. Producer & Icon Levels where available.

Marquee Rewards members can now earn cruises on Norwegian Cruise Line. Members receive exclusive offers and discounts based on tier level. Executive Producers and Icons receive a FREE cruise per renewal period and Celebrities and Producers receive discounts.

Points expire after 12 mos. of inactivity.

Marquee Mall is your online shopping website where you can use Marquee Comps to buy the latest and greatest products. From high-quality kitchenware, to fashionable apparel, and the coolest electronics, Marquee Mall has everything you’re looking for.

Marquee Perks by level include: (again, thanks to TravelZork.com for the easy layout)

  • Marquee (0 – 9,999)
    • Receive special offers such as promotions, sweepstakes, special events, free play or VLT Play. This is based on how much you play
    • Earn extra Tier Points towards the next Tier level at Marquee Rewards

    Celebrity (10,000 – 29,999)

    • Same as Marquee plus…
    • Up to 30% off Carnival Cruise Lines trips

    Producer (30,000 – 124,999)

    • Same as Marquee plus…
    • Preferred access to select restaurants and Player Services
    • Up to 40% off Carnival Cruise Lines trips

    Executive Producer (125,000 – 399,999)

    • Same as Producer plus…
    • Preferred parking
    • Personal host
    • VIP lounge access for player and guest (where available)
    • Annual complimentary cruise up to 8 days with Carnival Cruise Lines
    • Renewal gift

    Icon ( 400,000 and up)

    • Same as Executive Producer plus…
    • A-Lister pass for one guest for VIP lounge (where available)
    • Celebration Dinner of (once per renewal period) (Approximate value of dinner is $250)
    • $500 Travel reimbursement towards cruise or Marquee Rewards location trip
    • An annual complimentary 3-night trip to a Marquee Rewards location plus a $250 dining credit at the Marquee Rewards location of your choice

 

 

Hotel at Hollywood, Bangor

Hotel at Hollywood, Bangor

As gamblers we learn to take the good with the bad.  This is not the best players club – matter of fact, it is considered one of the worst.  But some casinos in PNG portfolio are better than others.  But the 20 or so options across the country gives it an advantage only the bigger players in the industry can offer.

That’s all for now.

Binbin