The Pequot and Mohegan Tribes were once one tribe, but war with colonists, differences with other tribes, and different tribal and colonial alliances caused a split that continues to this day. The Mohegans were allies of John Mason against the Pequots in the Great Pequot War in 1637. Will the Mohegans & Pequots re-unite in the Great Casino War of 2020? Read on…..
Over 250 years after the Pequot War (which almost eradicated the entire Pequot Nation), a bingo hall rose on what was left of the Mashantucket Pequot reservation in 1985 beginning the history of gaming in New England and competition once again between the Mohegans and Pequots.
Previous to 1992, both tribes fought for federal & state recognition as well as keeping land claims. Then governor Weicker agreed to give the Pequots a monopoly on slot machines in return for 25 percent of the slot machine revenue with the state guaranteed $160 Million,. A year later, in 1993, the Pequots agreed to share the gaming business with the Mohegans, a tribe with whom they have lived for centuries, but the Indian monopoly is extended to all casino games.
After the Tribes Are Recognized
Here is a quick little history lesson since then:
- 1992 – first New England Casino as Foxwoods opens its doors in Mashantucket, CT
- 1992 – Rhode Island approves VLT gaming machines (class II) 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 soon follows
- 2008 – MGM joins Foxwoods with additional hotel / casino
- 2011 – MA legislature approves construction of 3 casinos
- 2012 – Oxford Casino opens in Oxford, Maine, making two casinos in Maine
- 2015 – MA opens first of three (4?) casinos in Plainville, Mass at Plainridge Park – slots only.
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 and parimutuel parlors throughout New England. Jai Alai frontons in Milford & Hartford CT, and Newport, RI were also popular for a while in the 1970 – 90s until Foxwoods opened. Rhode Island’s Lincoln Greyhound Park became Twin River Casino later.
Future Casino Landscape in 2015
In 2015, the country was filled with new casinos and New England followed the trend. The two CT tribal casinos in New England began a gaming explosion that appeared to include:
- Connecticut – 3 casinos – a joint casino venture (MMCT) with Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun
- Rhode Island – 2 Twin River Casinos
- Massachusetts – 4 casinos, plus an additional Tribal Casino in the Southeast
- New Hampshire – 2 Casinos, wherever?
- Maine – 2 casinos
- Total = 13 casinos in a combined area slightly larger than the state of Washington, which has 28 Indian casinos in operation.
The Many Casinos That Never made it
For those in the country that don’t equate New England with gambling still, it may be a surprise that New England has had more casino proposals not make it to construction than the Las Vegas Strip. For those of you living here, remember these possibilities?
- Penn National Casino in Springfield, MA (2013)
- Caesars Casino proposal in Boston, MA (2013) partnering with Suffolk Downs
- Mohegan Sun Casino proposal in Palmer MA (2013)
- Hard Rock International Casino proposal in West Springfield MA (2013)
- Mashpee Wampanoag “First Light” Casino in Tauton MA (2013) [not daed yet]
- Nunes/Foxwoods Casino proposal in Milford MA (2013)
- Rush Gaming Slots-only proposal in Worcester MA (2013)
- Racino proposal in Scarborough ME (2013)
- Cordish Gaming Slots-only proposal in Foxboro MA (2013)
- Penn National opts out of Casino in Springfield, MA, to set sites on slots-only in Plainville (2013)
- New Hampshire proposes three separate casinos (2012, 2013, 2015), but none to show for it.
- The Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians casino proposals ME
- Mohegan Sun Casino proposal for Revere MA (after MGM chosen for Springfield (2014)
- Maine Casino Proposal @Scarborough Downs (2014)
- Foxwoods Casino Proposal in New Bedford MA (2014)
- Rush Gaming Casino in Brockton MA (2014 – 2018)
- York Casino Proposal ME (2015, 2017)
Where am I going with this? To tell you the truth, I don’t know…..does anybody know? Let’s be honest, the news of an economic gambling war between New England States could go in many directions. Twin River buying Dover Downs in Delaware and moving Newport Grand (closed) to Tiverton with table games and a nifty hotel is an example of New England casinos jockeying for additional advantages.
That’s all for now. All I know is, for now, and the foreseeable future, we will have 9 casinos when Encore Boston Harbor is finished in 2019. Actually, it will be 10, since the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe on Martha’s Vineyard, MA has been approved for a small class II casino.
My head hurts………