Massachusetts Casinos Endure Tough Challenges

Massachusetts Casinos Endure Tough Challenges reviews expectations and situations that each Massachusetts casino has had to overcome.

Revenue stats revealed a downward trend before the pandemic. This was the report before Covid.

Massachusetts Casinos Listened

MGM Springfield tried adding a VIP lounge and changing the casino layout. They took out numerous slot machines, making more room for their guests.

Likewise, Plainridge Park in Plainville, MA, changed High Limit slots and added Dunkin Donuts. But the lack of table games continues to hamper its success.

Finally, Encore Boston Harbor, the luxurious gem of New England, realized it wasn’t in Las Vegas. So Encore Boston Harbor proceeded to lower table game limits and offer discounted rooms, only to open with high table limits once again.

Related Post – Gambling in Massachusetts – The Bay State

Revenue and COVID-19

Massachusetts Casinos Endure Tough Road
Inside Chandler Steakhouse at MGM

COVID-19 followed the year’s dismal revenue reports. All of the New England casinos closed in March. As the song says,

“If It Wasn’t for Bad Luck, I Would Have No Luck at All.”

“Born Under a Bad Sign” written by William Bell with lyrics by Booker T. Jones

Having to Endure a Tough Road From 2013

Related Post – Massachusetts Gaming Law

In 2013, I wrote that support was “imploding” for Massachusetts casinos. Interestingly, Western New England University Polling Institute published a survey by that year. Not surprisingly, three of five adults in Massachusetts said they favor having casinos in the state…..just not in their backyard.

The Mass Gaming Commission continued to over-scrutinize each license application. Consequently, Casino Industry representatives were hesitant to continue the process. At that time, the landowner for the Everett casino proposal was found to have a criminal background. Besides, later in the year, criminal connections caused the Caesars Entertainment proposal to be rejected. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission was determined to prevent criminal connections in the process.

In 2018, Wynn Boston Harbor changed its name to Encore Boston Harbor. Earlier, founder Steve Wynn was accused of sexual misconduct allegations. Furthermore, the company took steps to distance itself from Steve Wynn.

There Were Many Suitors for Four Massachusetts Licenses

Region B (Western Mass)MGM Springfield awarded license. 

Massachusetts Casinos Endure Tough Road
Mohegan Sun Proposal for Revere

Others interested – Penn National Gaming, Inc. (Springfield), Hard Rock MA (West Springfield), Mohegan Sun (Palmer)

Region A (Eastern Mass) – Wynn, LLC (Everett) Awarded license.

Original Foxwoods Rendition for Milford, MA

Others interested – Caesars, Suffolk Downs Racecourse (East Boston), Crossroads Massachusetts LLC, Foxwoods (Milford), Later, Suffolk Downs / Mohegan Sun (Revere)

Region C -Southeastern Mass has not been awarded.

Related Post – No Region C Casino In Massachusetts

Massachusetts Casinos Endure Tough Road
First Light Resort Casino rendition, Wampanoag Tribe, Taunton. The U.S. Interior Department has recently rescinded the reservation status of the tribe. They are believed to be descendants of those to first encountered the Pilgrims nearly four centuries ago.

Applicants included Mashpee Indian Tribe (Taunton), Rush Gaming Casino (Brockton), and Foxwoods (New Bedford)

Slots Only CasinoPenn National (Plainridge Park Racino, Plainville)

Others interested – Raynham Park (Raynham), Mass Gaming & Entertainment, LLC (Worcester), PPE Casino Resorts / Maryland Alive! (Danvers), Cordish Gaming Slots (Foxboro)

MGC Believes Three Casinos Are All Massachusetts Can Handle

In hindsight, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission approving only three casinos was a plus. It probably diminished employment, construction, and revenue woes due to COVID-19. When all three reopened in July, numbers were not as expected for obvious reasons with Covid-19.

Connecticut had an entire month’s advantage to scratch patrons’ itch for gambling by opening in June. They solidified patron loyalty and might have regained Massachusetts gamblers like in the old days.

Wareham, Massachusetts – A Money Grab at a Bad Time

In August 2019, the town of Wareham pitched Wareham Park to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The proposal included:

  • A “multi-faceted gaming and entertainment facility” with slots, restaurants, and other entertainment venues
  • A thoroughbred racing facility with a one-mile racetrack
  • A ballpark for the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Wareham Gatemen 
  • A hotel
  • A sports complex with permanent fields and other athletic facilities

In short, it never saw fruition. The problems opening the remaining three casinos during the pandemic were too critical.

The Future of Massachusetts Casinos – Massachusetts Casinos Endure Tough Challenges

Guests have been slow to return to all three casinos. A tough road is still in MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park’s future. However, Encore has space and additional land that will help it expand when needed. Only the handling of COVID-19 by the casino management, staff, and guests could start to turn it around.

2021 has seen a steady rise in visitation and the reduction of pandemic protocols. Revenues are beginning to represent expectations of years ago. A more substantial Massachusetts casino landscape will only help New England competition, and northeast gamblers will reap the benefits.