Gambling Saturation Still A Concern In New England

At least two to three times each year, someone brings up the “S” word concerning casino gambling in the northeast:

SATURATION

“Casino Saturation” is a concern everywhere in the U.S.  Between the Lottery, Tribal & Commercial Casinos, 43 states have casino legalized gambling. As the debate about online and fantasy gambling continues to be battled out, it seems more gambling instead of less is America’s yearning.

When Oxford Casino in Maine was built, saturation was mentioned since there was already a casino in Maine – Hollywood, in Bangor.  It was feared that the two would financially cannibalize each other without enough gamblers for two casinos. But, both continue to survive.  Within the past two years, one study suggested that Maine could withstand another casino, but was dismissed twice by the Maine Legislature.

New Hampshire continues to visit the casino option, but has had it defeated 4 times mostly due to the possible competition with Massachusetts gambling properties.

Massachusetts excluded the Brockton Southeast Gaming License due to the Wampanoag Casino in Taunton and the many stages of flux it was in.  Two large casinos in Southeastern Mass. was considered too much by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Rhode Island continues to move casinos around and is building a hotel for Twin River to compete with Massachusetts and Connecticut.

ALL BECAUSE OF THE FEAR OF CASINO SATURATION!

Connecticut studies, ironically made by MGM, suggested another casino in southwestern CT would be a plausible candidate for casino expansion, as Mohegan & Pequot tribes start plans for their joint casino near the border of MGMSpringfield.

In his articleGrowing Gambling Facilities In The Northeast U.S.: Is There A Market For Them All?, Elliott R. Morss provides tables of gaming progression in select casinos, including Wynn & MGM. The article implies that the survival of both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods is in jeopardy.  Why:

The old casino model of 80/20 – that’s 80% from gambling revenue and 20% from entertainment, dining, etc., – is changing to a more “integrated resort development” in new casinos.  Both Wynn & MGM are building newer casinos in New England with that in mind. For a related post, click on our article MGM Springfield Casino Will Be an “Urban” Casino.

However, as we started, isn’t this the same worry we’ve heard for years?  While the CT casinos have felt the pinch and haven’t fully recovered from the 2007 Recession, they continue to diversify and look to additional interests in the “integrated resort” concept.  And both have cut gambling machines and tables down to more manageable numbers.

Mohegan Casino Resort near Airport. Project is licensed in Korea.

Mohegan Sun continues it’s quest for a casino in Korea, and developing a large swath of land across the river from its casino that will include retail, housing and more.  Foxwoods has added more thrill rides and continues to re-invent itself.  CT Casino #3, the  MMCT third casino in East Windsor still has big old MGM worried, or they wouldn’t be still trying to stop it through the courts.

So, I say gambling is increasing – in New England, in the east, all over the country.  There isn’t a finite number of gamblers.  The pie just gets larger.  With the soon-to-be-changed law on sports betting, more opportunities will be available for CT, MA, RI & the rest of the northeast.

Wynn, MGM, Tiverton will all serve different purposes and different players. Let’s see what the future of gaming in New England holds before we once again think the sky is falling!

Binbin

 

 

 

 

New England Casinos Increasing Hotel Room By Over 30%

By 2019, New England’s line-up of casinos will include:

  1. Two new casinos in Massachusetts
  2. Newport Grand moved from Newport to Tiverton, Rhode Island
  3. Maybe an additional casino in Connecticut.

The most important component favoring New England’s tourism business is the additional casino-attached hotel rooms offered in the area.  This is not keeping in mind the affiliate hotels in each casino’s surrounding area, just those attached or directly on the property.

MGM Tower at Foxwoods - Right side.

Fox and Grand Pequot Hotels & Casinos

At this time, the seven operating “brick & mortar” casinos offer 4018 hotel rooms on their properties, with Foxwoods having the most with 2266 rooms and suites.  There are only 3 Resort/Casinos that have hotels connected – Foxwoods (2266 rooms), Mohegan Sun (1600 rooms with the addition of the Earth Tower), Hollywood (152 rooms).

Withing the next two years, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine will add hotel rooms increasing the total number of casino hotel rooms by over 30%.

Hampton Inn at Oxford Casino

The walls have begun to go up on the Hampton Inn on Route 26 across from the entrance to the Oxford Casino. Oxford Casino’s own hotel is also being constructed.

Oxford Casino, in Oxford, Maine will be completing their hotel later this year. Expansion of the existing Oxford Casino facility will feature over 100 new guestrooms including standard rooms and suites, additional dining options, an expansion of the gaming floor and new flexible meeting and banquet space.  This hotel, as well as the unaffiliated Hampton Inn completed across the street, will have the greatest impact for tourists looking to stay and help the central Maine tourism improve its possible accommodations.

Wynn Boston Harbor

Wynn Boston Harbor

In Massachusetts, the addition of two new resort/casinos – MGM Springfield & Wynn Boston Harbor – will add almost 900 rooms.  Wynn is expected to have 700 rooms, including Deluxe rooms, Parlor Suites and Panoramic View Suites.  Click here for a look.

MGM Springfield

New rendering of MGM Springfield’s hotel without tower.

MGM Springfield, after downsizing its tower, will include a four-star luxury hotel with 250 guest rooms and 20 VIP suites.

Rhode Island’s casinos, both owned by Twin River Management, will undergo changes that will challenge casinos in both Massachusetts & Connecticut.  Tiverton Town Council unanimously approved new zoning regulations that will allow Twin River Management Group Incorporated to construct its planned Twin River Tiverton Casino Hotel . Leaving Newport Grand for a new casino on a 45-acre site only a few hundred feet from the Rhode Island border with Massachusetts will challenge the progress that Plainridge Park has enjoyed in the last year. The Herald News reported that the plan for the Twin River Tiverton Casino Hotel moreover calls for the construction of an 84-room hotel along with a two-level parking garage capable of holding up to 1,800 cars

Tiverton Casino

Proposed Tiverton Casino

In Lincoln RI, Twin River Casino has seen much success in recent years with the addition of table games. John Taylor, chairman of the board at Twin River, said construction should begin this spring on an approximately 140-room hotel that will be built at the north entrance of Twin River, opening in July 2018.  While Taylor admits “It’s not going to change the complexion of who we are – we are a convenience casino operator,”  the hotel should bring in others around New England with hopes of staying for a day or two.

Twin River

North entrance area where new hotel is expected to be built (left side of picture).

The additional room total after 2019 is approximately over 2000 rooms added. This improvement should change some of the “convenience” gambling to resort-status for more New England Casinos.

One note – If the Mashpee Wampanoag “First Light” Casino/Resort project is able to be completed, a total of 600 rooms will be offered in two phases in Taunton, near Plainridge Park, Wynn and Tiverton – another increase of 10% of the then over 6000 rooms available at New England casinos.

These are all welcome additions and should ease the concern of casino saturation. The pool of gamblers would be expanded by the ability for gamblers outside of New England to stay and move to other casinos in proximity, thus making all 9 or 10 casinos not completely dependent on local gaming.

That’s all for now.

Binbin

 

New Bedford Casino Developers Saw the Area’s Future & Pulled Away

No Casino Here - Ever!

No Casino Here – Ever!

In a surprising change in the Massachusetts Gaming Expansion, the New Bedford waterside casino complex is no more.  The developers have forced KG Urban to take their application off the table, and the southeast license, Region C, now only has one suitor in Brockton.

What happened?

Well, duh, you see, it takes financial backing to build a casino, and when your financial backers pull out, there is no casino to be built.  Simple, right?

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What it was supposed to look like.

In its letter to the state Gaming Commission, KG Urban, said investors proved unconvinced the venture would work in an increasingly competitive environment. Let me put this in layman’s terms – New England’s casino market is saturated and being hyper-competitive, especially in the eastern part of Massachusetts bordering CT & RI.

In an article I think connected to KG Urban’s investors concerns, Howard Stutz wrote that “Moody’s Investors Service said the casino industry’s cash flow prospects could climb as much as 4 percent over next 12 to 18 months……18 U.S. states with casinos reported a 4.1 percent increase in monthly gaming revenue during May, following a 4 percent increase in April. In May, every state but New Jersey and Connecticut saw improvement. With these numbers in hand, the advisory firm changed its overall outlook of the U.S. gaming industry from a negative to a stable rating.”

You see, gambling is on the rise everywhere – but not necessarily here in New England.  Maine is experiencing a lull and decline with it’s two small casinos having run the entire state, New Hampshire, and borders on Canada. The key in the above statement by Moody’s is that the northeast isn’t improving like the rest of the nation – “every state but New Jersey and Connecticut saw improvement.”  Rhode Island’s statistics are not reported as in other states, but this area in New England (Eastern CT, RI, Southeast MA) is not destined for such a rise in revenue. The two exceptions in the northeast are New York State and Pennsylvania (which has shown a slight resurgence in the last months after a couple of years in decline.)

ri_bluLast week I posted an article to get a rise out of people – I admit, I’m not expecting Eight Casinos Between CT Casinos and Everett, Massachusetts, but with all the possibilities listed, it boggles the mind. At least now we can take one of those possibilities out of the running.

By the way, building a big modern casino doesn’t mean people will flock to it and make it their new gambling destination.  The proof in the east can be spelled with 5 letters: R-E-V-E-L!

Here are a few facts that changed the New Bedford backers minds:

  1. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is still looking to build casino resort in Taunton.
  2. Mass Gaming & Entertainment, the developers proposing Brockton casinos, are still pledging to remain in the hunt for a casino.
  3. Connecticut and Rhode Island have both discussed the potential of expanding their existing casino industries. And while she was against it all along, it makes sense that Attorney General Maura Healey cautioned the Massachusetts Gaming Commission about the threat of an over-saturated gaming market.

And now a few side rants to get off my chest related to the whole thing:

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Stephen Crosby of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

  1. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission seems so naive to think that this process would be so simple –  pick four casinos, build them quickly like Legoland, and take the rest of New England’s money with just a whimper and a white flag from the other states?
  2. One newspaper article I read accused Foxwoods of failing on this deal, which is completely false.  Consider Foxwoods a subcontractor for the job – only the job never materialized!
  3. Mohegan_palmer_casino_rendering

    Palmer Casino Proposal

    Finally, another jab at the MGC plan.  Brockton is similar to Palmer, Mass in economic need and instability.  Both are tired old mill towns trying to reinvent itself, like so many towns in New England. Mohegan Sun’s casino proposal in Palmer was denied by the MGC, instead choosing MGM in Springfield.  Now Springfield won’t see it happen until late 2018 or even later, while I’m sure the Palmer casino would have already been started and would have been competing and drawing with both New York State and Connecticut, and bringing the state of Massachusetts revenue earlier than 2018.

So far, Massachusetts has a “box of slots” (as MGM Muren calls them) working well to bring in the casino revenue to Massachusetts, and stalled projects all over the state. I end by quoting from the Broadway show “Wicked.” The now famous song “Defying Gravity” begins with Elphaba and Glinda saying to each other “I hope you’re happy – I hope you’re happy, now!”

Well, so far Massachusetts, are ya?

that’s all for now.

Binbin