How Massachusetts Has Changed It’s View of Their Own Casinos – The Monday Link

Every Monday – The Monday Link

Today’s link is written by the only exclusive coverage of all New England’s casinos – NETimeGambling.com!  Yes, it’s us.  Five years ago almost to the day, when we were in our infancy, I covered a response by anti-casino groups in Massachusetts two years after the Massachusetts Casino Law was passed.

To set the stage, only 5 casinos – Mohegan & Foxwoods in CT, Twin River & Newport Grand in RI, and Hollywood Bangor in ME – were in business at the time.  The process of choosing the companies for which possible cities was just starting to roll out. Acceptance of the casino expansion was not universal in the Pilgrim State, as you will see in this post.

So, on September 21, 2013 I posted the following:

Massachusetts Casino News – Casinos Opposition Gaining Support

Read it remembering the context of five years ago, compared to now, with two of three (or four) Massachusetts casinos going strong in Plainville & Springfield. I hope you enjoy this look back.

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Dr. Clyde Barrow & the Proposed Bridgeport Casino

Attorney General Jepson

Attorney General George Jepsen has advised Connecticut legislators to test the market for opening Connecticut to commercial casinos. He seems to think it wouldn’t jeopardize $260 million in slots revenue the state expects to collect this year under the exclusive deal with the tribal owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun.

But this is a questionable tactic in my mind, and so does Clyde Barrow.

Who is Clyde Barrow?

Dr. Clyde Barrow is considered a gaming industry specialist. In a comprehensive study, he stated that a new Connecticut casino (referring to the joint venture between the Mohegans & Pequots) would recapture 46 percent of the 9,300 jobs and $337 million in revenue that would otherwise be lost to out-of-state competition, especially that from Massachusetts.

Casino Consultant, Clyde Barrow

Casino Consultant, Clyde Barrow

Dr. Barrow goes on to say recently, “Precedent has already been set. According to Barrow, “in October of 2010, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council “stopped sharing revenue from the casino along New York’s northern border with the state, claiming the exclusivity provisions of its gambling compact has been violated…..In other words: if the State of Connecticut grants a commercial gaming license to any operator other than the State’s two Indian tribes under an open competitive bid process, then the tribe’s current combined revenue sharing payments of $267 million annually could cease immediately (Connecticut Division of Special Revenue 2017).”

Connecticut’s Tribal Tax Revenue

Foxwoods Resort Casino has operated a Class III casino under a compact with the State of Connecticut since February 15, 1992 and Mohegan Sun Casino has operated a Class III casino under a compact with the State of Connecticut since October 12, 1996. Connecticut’s two tribes have a combined Gross Gaming Revenue that is the 4th largest in the United States.  The top three are California (where 62 of the 109 California tribes own 69 casinos), Florida (2 tribes operate and own 8 casinos) and Washington state (32 tribal casinos owned by 23 tribes). Remember, only two tribes with only two casinos in the third smallest US state.

But all that revenue from slots at both tribal casinos would be lost with a competitive process for the 4th casino in Bridgeport.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed MGM Bridgeport casino.(Image: MGM Resorts International)

As reported by Brian Hallenbeck, the Day staff writer, Dr. Barrow said “Assuming the third Connecticut casino gets built — and few consider that a slam dunk — a fourth, competitively bid casino would have to generate nearly $1.1 billion in annual gross gaming revenues to offset what the state would lose when the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes stop sharing their casinos’ slot-machine revenues, a new report concludes. And the probability of a Bridgeport casino pulling in that kind of cash “is almost zero [because] not a single commercial casino in the United States currently generates that level of gross gaming revenue,,”

 

Let’s look at a few other considerations:

  1. The traffic from New York of prospective gamblers will cause studies and improvements in the dangerous, time consuming highway that is I-95. Improved infrastructure should be paid for by any perspective Bridgeport Casino project, or that will cut into Connecticut’s tax revenue, diminishing the already smaller revenue expected without the tribal tax revenue.

    I-95 traffic congestion on SW CT.

  2. Potential developments in New York, where a constitutional moratorium on New York City casinos expires in December 2022, also threaten the success of a Bridgeport casino, Barrow contends. “There is nothing to prevent the State of New York from locating a new casino even closer to the Connecticut border, where it could intercept casino traffic from New York City and capture traffic from Fairfield County. The anticipated traffic from New York City will never materialize for a Bridgeport casino because New York can easily and quickly pre-empt a new competitive threat from Connecticut by building an even more lavish casino that is more convenient to New York City customers.”
  3. If newly built New York Casinos and NYC close Empire and Resorts World Casinos are already cutting into the tribal revenue, what kind of a terrible impact would a border war with New York AND Massachusetts bring without the CT tribal revenue when the exclusive pact with the tribes is broken.

I believe Dr. Barrow’s analysis.  But maybe MGM International also believes he’s right.  I guess that’s how stalling tactics, and MGM is real good at not showing its hand. Meanwhile, MGM Springfield continues – full speed ahead, while Connecticut is still waiting for in first gear.

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New Hampshire Done With Casinos and D’Allesandro?

Breaking news – New Hampshire will not have a casino.

Rockingham Park Racetrack was an original site for a New Hampshire Casino

No, this is not a repeat of a previous post, just “Deja vu” all over again.

Senator Lou D’Allesandro’s 20th consecutive proposal for a casino bill was overturned by an 11 to 10 vote by the Senate last week. After struggling for over two long decades to get his co-legislators to think more progressively, after his bill’s defeat, he has decided to step down from his position and give it all up.

When it comes to gambling states, New Hampshire is not Nevada, nor New Jersey, not that the good senator hasn’t tried to make it that way. It doesn’t have a casino – not that interest hasn’t sparked here and there. Some in the Granite state will stand by New Hampshire’s card rooms (check out “New Hampshire Adds a New…….Casino?”) while others continue to want a commercial brick-and-mortar casino, only to have it knocked down time and time again. All except one have been backed by Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, a longtime backer of expanded gambling in New Hampshire.

Seabrookpoker room

Let’s take a look back:

  • 2013 – Senate’s bill included 5,000 slots and 150 table games at a single casino and was defeated in the House. Rockingham Park considered site.
  • 2014 – The Senate’s bill called for 3,500 slots and 160 table games at the category 1 casino and 1,500 slots and 180 table games at the category 2 facility. The House Ways and Means Committee voted 11-9 to kill Bill 1633 – which would establish the regulatory framework and oversight authority for a casino with up to 5,000 video slot machines and 150 table games. The committee also voted to kill three other casino bills, two that would have allowed six casinos in various parts of the state.
  • 2015 – The New Hampshire House once again rejected casino gambling voting down a proposal that would have legalized two venues that supporters said would have provided badly needed revenue.
  • 2016 – Rep. Dan McGuire pushes for ‘largest gambling bill’ in New Hampshire’s history, House Bill 630, which would allow not just one or two casinos, but hundreds of bars and restaurants in the state to host up to six video lottery machines each. Businesses holding a liquor license could host the machines, which will let customers play slots, poker or blackjack in their premises—as long as the machines are off limits to children and separated from family spaces. McGuire expected at least 1,000 out of the 1,800 liquor licensees in New Hampshire will apply to host these video lottery terminals.
  • 2017 – A bill is introduced that offers two licenses – anybody can bid on them, and can be built anywhere in NH. A Category 1 license is $80 million; the Category 2 license is $40 million. The A license is a little bit larger than the B license. Once again, rejected.

It’s time for a different strategy.  New Hampshire doesn’t seem to want the help of casino revenue.  To be honest, the competition would be steep. The southern half of the state, which includes about 2/3 of state’s land, is also where over 2/3 of the state’s population resides.  Surrounded by MGM Springfield, ??? Boston Harbor, and Oxford Casino (now with two hotels) in Maine provides too much to overcome. Hanover, NH, half way up New Hampshire on the Vermont border is only two hours away from Boston’s new casino resort – Springfield even less.  Gamblers have traveled longer to visit Connecticut casinos for years.

Lou D’Allesandro

D’Allesandro reiterated that by failing to legalize the casino bill in the state, New Hampshire has essentially missed out on nearly $1 billion in casino taxes that could have otherwise served to uplift the local community in the last 20 years.  He also was heard taking credit for the expansion in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut after legislators in those states copied his ideas, saying they were “taking his cue and reaping the benefits of his unique ideas and suggestions.”

Hmmm, try convincing the Pequots at Foxwoods of that.

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