Our awards were some different winners this year, but not exactly what we thought they would be. I assumed it would be well represented with MGM Springfield on the scene. Instead, Mohegan Sun added to its New England prominence. So here is the New England Casino Awards – Final Analysis of 2018.
With the most rooms and most variations in room decor and layout, it has to be Foxwoods. Even with Twin River’s hotel opening, Oxford Casino Hotel open for over a year, Tiverton’s opening including hotel and the opening of MGM Springfield, Foxwoods is still the best choice for hotels. MGM Springfield’s Hotel is one of a kind, and we highly recommend trying a stay there. The many intricacies of Springfield’s history can be found throughout the casino and continued in the Hotel decor.
Regarding places for libation, there are two types of casinos. First, the typical bar, sometimes with entertainment, usually offers excellent drinks and dining options. The video poker bar is a vital gambling choice, usually including slots, keno, and sometimes electronic Blackjack. Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun tied in this category, and why not, with so many bars and VP bars available in their multiple casinos? But I should mention that MGM Springfield’s Walk-up Bar and Commonwealth Bar have terrific ambiance. Now, if only they had playable video poker.
BEST DINING OPTIONS & BEST DINING VALUE
Our voters pretty much nailed this. Mohegan Sun offers the gamut on one property, especially in lower-cost eateries. But, I also feel when considering just high-end restaurants, Foxwoods would edge out the competition. However, even fun establishments such as Sugar are in the hefty price range at Foxwoods. Since we visit all New England Casinos, some restaurants need some mention. Tiverton Casino’s Tuscan Chophouse and Italian cuisine at Trattoria Romana are great restaurants with local ties. New England’s casinos offer a wide variety of excellent steakhouses for great steak houses. Consider MGM’s Chandler Steakhouse, Jordan’s Steakhouse at Mohegan Sun, Cedars and David Burke’s Prime at Foxwoods, Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse at Twin River, and Slack’s Oyster House & Grill at Plainridge Park for your next beef bonanza.
Again, NETG applauds the voters for selecting David Burke Prime as an outstanding high-end restaurant. It has everything you’d find in the best eateries in Las Vegas.
BEST BUFFET – Mohegan’s Sunrise Buffet is just the best, ’nuff said.
ENTERTAINMENT, BEST SMALL VENUE – The Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun is hands down the #1 favorite. The Sun offers outstanding free entertainment on the weekends, but free entertainment has increased at other properties. Foxwoods raised the ante in the Atrium Lounge, Hard Rock Cafe, and Centrale, and Plainridge Park Casino offers good entertainment at their Revolution Lounge and the Loft. Twin River’s Lighthouse Lounge continues to offer great free entertainment. “Roar!” At MGM, Springfield’s Armory and Mohegan Sun’s Comix lead the way.
BEST SLOTS – I think it’s simple – wherever you win is your preferred slot machine. No one knows the payback percentage, and slot players’ play is short and can’t give anyone a good idea of how high the payout is. Most casinos have the same newest slots. But what I found interesting was the lack of Buffalo slots or Wheel of Fortune machines mentioned! Instead, Wonder Woman? Who’d a thunk it?
BEST VIDEO POKER – Mohegan Sun is the only New England Casino to offer full pay VP – Jacks or Better – at the quarter level up. If they offer it, the Sun will continue to be the best VP in New England. We know from experience at their other properties that Wynn & MGM will never offer Full Pay VP, rarely even at $1 levels. So, this award may be good through 2020. Decent VP paytables can be found at Plainridge Park and Foxwoods.
TABLE GAMES – Players of all levels appreciate good rules & low starting limits. In New England, Foxwoods and MoSun had this covered but recently have raised minimums and introduced 6:5 Blackjack. While having similar rules, Maine casinos lack the amount and mix of traditional table & “carnival” games. Twin River & Tiverton offer table games with slightly higher limits, with most games starting at $10, and MGM Springfield has lowered minimums to be more competitive. While Mohegan Sun won this time, it will be anyone’s game in the future, as all casinos seem to offer the same games, minimums, and rules.
We have seen an exciting change in two areas – favorite games and poker rooms. Craps has taken over as the popular table game in the casino. And when it comes to poker rooms, MGM Springfield, with what is now considered the comfiest poker room in New England, has made a great run at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun to the point that all the poker rooms, as well as Twin River Casino’s poker room, are in a dead heat right now. Mohegan Sun is down-sizing its poker room and moving it to a different casino area, which could change its poker room’s feel. So you can bet that poker is alive and well in New England.
The Sun won this category last year, with Foxwoods winning this year. Rhode Island’s legal sportsbook must have been too new for most to be counted this year. When Twin River opens its actual betting area, it could easily win next year unless CT and MA approve legal sports betting this year.
BEST PLAYERS CLUB
Even with changes, Foxwoods continues to lag behind Mohegan Sun. MLife at MGM Springfield could be a big players’ club in the coming years with properties on both the East and West Coast – especially access to Las Vegas Strip properties.
Thanks to all who participated this year. It’s always fun. What changes are in store this year? We’ll have to wait.