“MASSACHUSETTS CASINOS ENDURE TOUGH ROAD” provides understanding for unmet expectations. Each Massachusetts casino has had numerous problems to overcome. Revenue stats revealed a downward trend. Nonetheless, all three have continued to evolve with its clientele.
Massachusetts Casinos Have Listened and Changed
MGM Springfield has tried adding a VIP lounge and changing the casino layout. In fact, they took out numerous slot machines, making more room for its guests. Plainridge Park in Plainville, MA changed the area for High Limit slots and added Dunkin Donuts. But no table games continues to hamper its success.
Finally, Encore Boston Harbor, the luxurious gem of New England, realized it wasn’t in Las Vegas. Encore Boston Harbor proceeded to lower table hame limits and offer discounted rooms.
Related Post – MGM Springfield Opens to Delight and Concern
Revenue and COVID-19
COVID-19 followed the year’s dismal revenue reports. All New England casinos closed in March. As the lyrics from “Born Under a Bad Sign” say,
“If It Wasn’t for Bad Luck, I Would Have No Luck at All.”written by William Bell with lyrics by Booker T. Jones
Massachusetts Casinos Endure Tough Road
It Started at the Beginning, in 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 the 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 owner of land for the Everett casino proposal was found to have a criminal background. In addition later in the year, criminal connections caused then 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 it’s 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 Interested Suitors for 4 casino licenses.
Region B – Western Mass – MGM Springfield
others – Penn National Gaming, Inc. (Springfield), Hard Rock MA (West Springfield), Mohegan Sun (Palmer)
Region A – Eastern Mass – Wynn, LLC (Everett)
others – Caesars, Suffolk Downs Racecourse (East Boston), Crossroads Massachusetts, LLC, Foxwoods (Milford), Later, Suffolk Downs / Mohegan Sun (Revere)
Region C -Southeastern Mass (not given to any applicant)
Mashpee Indian Tribe (Taunton), Rush Gaming Casino (Brockton), and Foxwoods (New Bedford)
Slots Only – Plainridge Racecourse (Plainville)
others – Raynham Park (Raynham), Mass Gaming & Entertainment, LLC (Worcester)
PPE Casino Resorts / Maryland Alive! (Danvers), Cordish Gaming Slots (Foxboro)
Massachusetts Casinos Endure Tough Road – Three Casinos Are All Massachusetts Can Handle
In hind sight, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission approving only three casinos was a plus. As a matter of fact, it probably diminished employment, construction and revenue woes due to COVID-19. As all three reopened in July, numbers have not been as expected. Connecticut had an entire month advantage to scratch patrons’ itch for gambling. In doing so, they also solidified patron loyalty and might have regained Massachusetts gamblers like in the old days.
Wareham Massachusetts – A Money Grab at an Inopportune Time
In August of 2019, the town of Wareham pitched Wareham Park to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The proposal includes:
- A “multi-faceted gaming and entertainment facility” with slots, restaurants and other entertainment venues
- A thoroughbred racing facility with 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, this will never see fruition. The MGC would have to add an additional slots-only license. In addition, the problems opening the remaining casinos during the pandemic are too critical.
The Future of Massachusetts Casinos – Still A Tough Road Ahead
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 the 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. I hope our immediate health situation improves, not just for New England’s casino but for our entire country.