MGM Springfield Winning the Casino War?

How successful will MGM Springfield be?  It’s supposed to be different from all the other MGM properties, and almost all of the American brick-and-mortar casinos open at this moment.

Main St. in Springfield, Mass., 1910.

There is a lot of excitement in Springfield these days.  There is a lot of hope as well.  Much of it depends on what MGM Springfield will bring to a city looking for a break, looking for a chance to crawl out of financial and cultural hole it has been stuck in for decades. Overall decline of industry throughout the northeastern U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s seemed to be the catalyst for the city’s decline, and Springfield developed a national reputation for crime, political corruption and cronyism, which stands in stark contrast to the reputation it enjoyed throughout much of U.S. history.

Now,  the third-largest city in Massachusetts is getting help from MGM International, helping it rise from the ashes with financial backing, jobs for it’s area residents and promise for tourism, the arts, and it’s city’s reputation.

G. Michael Dobbs, of the Reminder News, reported on an article by analyst Howard Jay Klein. Mr. Dobbs said he wanted “….to see what other people think about the MGM Springfield project.”  Mr. Klein had some keen insights.

As Dobbs mentioned in his article, “Klein was looking at the management tactics on the company and compared the MGM approach to plate spinning. ….. you might remember those acts on “The Ed Sullivan Show” where a guy would first balance plates on tall rods and then set them spinning. His skill was keeping the plates spinning and not falling.” Klein questioned whether or not MGM management has too many plates spinning.

The plates, of course, are the many casino/resorts MGM has across the country, with one of those plates representing MGM Springfield.

Consider the following, some pros, some cons – some both:

  1. MGM Springfield is a downtown site – a new gamble MGM calls an “urban casino.”
  2. It’s due to open in mid 2018 – slightly ahead of its original due date.
  3. Its competition will include – Plainridge Park Casino & Raceway, run by Penn National Gaming that’s already open as Massachusetts’s first casino
  4. a mega property from Wynn to be opened in 2019 at Everett near Boston

    Steve Wynn with his rendition of Wynn Boston Harbor

  5. The two Connecticut tribal properties as well as the consideration of one or even two added casinos in Connecticut.  To be fair, the reality of additional casinos in CT is looking bleak at this date.
  6. The new casino in New York State, Rivers Casino, in Schenectady is located just over 100 miles from downtown Springfield and has already drawn thousands of visitors from upstate New York, as well as Western Massachusetts. Rivers Vice President of Marketing Danny Brockdorf said, “Our customers are more likely be out here, make a day trip — we do have the resort to really cater to folks who are already coming into town…..I don’t see much of an impact from MGM Springfield.”

    Rivers Casino, Schenectady, NY

According to Klein, “This one’s [MGM Springfield] is facing very rocky soil in our consensus view and at best be a marginal contributor…..”

NETimeGambling doesn’t agree with Mr. Klein’s assessment. We think MGM Springfield will be a viable competitor for these reasons:

  • Connecticut has lost the many battles that MGM has thrown at its third casino project.
  • The city of Springfield is “drooling” over the possible future and will do anything to make their better future come true.
  • MGM Springfield will bringing sports and cultural events to bring tourists to Springfield’s historical city district.  MGM Springfield is planning a strategic partnership between the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and MGM Resorts International in order to help bring world-class entertainment to the MassMutual Center. Additional entertainment amenities that will complement the resort, including retail space, food/beverage venues, a state of the art movie theater with six screens, a luxury bowling facility and an outdoor plaza that will feature large dynamic video displays and outdoor areas for events including expeditions, art shows and similar functions.
  • MGM has pledged to create about 3,000 permanent jobs to benefit the local community job market.

    Mass Mutual Civic Center, Springfield, MA

  • MGM has loyal fans across the country.  The closest are MGM National Harbor in Washington D.C. and Borgata in Atlantic City, both highly successful.

MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis has expressed optimism about his casino’s prospects in spite all the eminent competition saying, “Of course we’re aware of all competition — the Schenectady facility has been on our radar ever since the license was issued. … Generally we feel regardless of the type of competition in the market that MGM facilities have the ability to grow the market in our unique destinations, and that’s proven out with our early success in National Harbor right outside of D.C.”

MGM National Harbor

The eventual success or disappointment in MGM Springfield’s expectations will have plenty of time to be evaluated.  But, right now, my crystal ball is very cloudy from Connecticut’s mess and legislative delay. MGM International should be able to open by 2018 with little, if any competition at all.

MGM has won many battles – the clincher may be winning the war.





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