In 2017, I already had some concerns before MGM Springfield was built. I published this post four years ago, just before its grand opening. Now that it’s 2021, this article has been updated twice. So it’s time to revisit MGM Springfield Four Years Later.
MGM Springfield Four Years Later
When the Massachusetts Gaming Commission chose MGM Springfield over the Mohegan tribe’s application in Palmer, MA., expectations were high. Bringing revenue to an economically needy city such as Springfield was especially important. There was a lot of pressure on MGM Springfield to bring in jobs and enhance downtown Springfield.
Would MGM Springfield be another New England casino that solidifies southern New England as a gambling destination? Would Wynn (Encore) Boston Harbor do the same, for that matter? After all, Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun in Connecticut are resorts that attract people from all over the country.
Is MGM Springfield a resort? – that’s a topic for a different post. (See the Related Post below).
Related Post – MGM Springfield Is Not A Resort.
Here are my thoughts about the MGM Springfield project and related issues from 2017, with a 2021 update.
Changes in Plans
The original plans were impressive. But following the original proposal, MGM 86ed the hotel tower, lowered the parking garage by two floors, and moved the expected apartment complex further away from the casino. As a result, an impressive glass tower is seen for miles as guests approach, which is the most significant loss among the three mentioned.
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. Changes in designs do occur all the time. Rising costs are usually sighted as the reasons for these changes – whether it’s a Mall, housing project, or casino.
In 2017, it not only frustrated me but was taken personally. I said, “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 aren’t that naive and stupid.” I guess I wanted to see the hotel below.
Inside, MGM Springfield restaurants are on the perimeter of the casino. The essential “Center Bar” in the middle of the casino, made famous by the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas long ago, sits with a long bar similar to the D in Las Vegas. In 2019, the island bar was added – an excellent choice.
Dining is a problem in 2021, as in “not enough.” Breakfast choices are minimal. A Starbucks or Dunkin’ would undoubtedly help. Oh, they did have a Starbucks, didn’t they when it opened?
National MLife Connections
I’ve always been encouraged by the East-West connection the rewards club provides. Earning MLife points in Springfield that can be used in Las Vegas & Biloxi, MS, is exciting! MGM owns some remarkable properties. Imagine earning offers from MGM Springfield to stay at Bellagio, Aria, and Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas!
In 2021, the MLife connection across the country was a huge reason to play at MGM Springfield for years to come. Also, Borgata, also owned by MGM, has MLife working with all other MLife properties.
The Connecticut Threat
In 2017, MGM dismissed everyone else in New England (except Wynn) as no competition. Correspondingly, MGM thought Nutmeg State’s casinos were also no threat to MGM Springfield’s success. But they indeed began a battle by suing Connecticut. MGM International threw lots of opposition to disrupting the third casino to set up shop in East Windsor, CT
MGM sought to take back all those patrons lost to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in 1992 and 1996, respectively. By the same token, MGM said it wanted a casino in CT (Bridgeport) but pulled out of Foxwoods in previous years. Mixed messages.
Related Post – MGM sues Connecticut officials over casino legislation
Four years later:
- MGM bought the Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway in New York. That’s only 55 miles away from Bridgeport, CT.
- Interest in buying Encore Boston Harbor showed indecision concerning keeping MGM Springfield.
- At the end of 2020, the pandemic halted all casino expansion – including Connecticut’s Tribal threat to MGM Springfield. Mohegan and Pequot tribes joined forces in a joint project to build “Tribal Winds” in East Windsor, close to the CT/MA border. However, the project is canceled due to the passing of the new Sports/iGaming Bill in CT.
In 2017, there was a concern with the gambling options MGM offered in the casino. “So, MGM, I ask you – what advantage I have spread my money in Springfield compared to other New England options?”
Truth be told, it seems to be in the middle of 2021 after the pandemic. MGM offers the same poor to mediocre Video Poker paytables in all their other properties. The exception is Borgata in Atlantic City. With space at a minimum, MGM Springfield has tried different gaming changes for its clientele.
Related Post – Gambling in Massachusetts – The Bay State
Most new casinos go through a time to find themselves and their clientele. MGM Springfield has years to get it right. They already started with additions like Wahlburgers; MGM International must realize the following to improve its situation:
- Springfield is not Las Vegas. In other words, they must assess the future as an up-scale local casino in a needy city.
- Increasing revenue and improving the experience will make MGM Springfield the destination it deserves to be and will help and endear the City of Springfield forever.
- A loyal patron base in and around Springfield is just waiting for MGM Springfield to be everything it could be as a gambling destination and a partner for refurbishing downtown Springfield.
It seems there will be a silver lining for casinos after the losses from the Covid pandemic. MGM Springfield sees the numbers rise as players can’t wait to return to their favorite activity. When we revisit in 2023, I predict a new, improved casino experience in Springfield.