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 England Casino Awards – Final Analysis of 2017

There were some surprises in this year’s poll, and many repeat winners from 2016.  Here’s our analysis of the results.

BEST HOTEL – this is really a no-brainer.  With the most rooms, most variations in room layout and renovations recently of the Grand Pequot Tower, it has to be  Foxwoods.  Next year might prove to be different, with Twin River’s hotel opening, Oxford Casino Hotel open for a year, and the opening of MGM Springfield.

BEST BARS – no change from last year. The many bars like Scorpion Bar and Centrale are scattered around the huge property.  The only reason for our selection of Mohegan Sun is their casino bars all have craft draft beer, and great video poker.  Foxwood’s pay tables for its VP bartops offers some pretty ugly pay tables, especially on nickel games such as Ultimate X & Super Times Pay.

Shrine – One of the Best Night Clubs on the East Coast

BEST NIGHTLIFE – while Mohegan won the popular poll for this category, I can’t imagine beating out Shrine at Foxwoods, one of the best NightClubs on the East Coast.

BEST DINING OPTIONS & BEST DINING VALUE  – When it comes to options, we felt Mohegan Sun offers the gamut on one property, especially in the area of lower cost eateries.  But, I also feel when considering just high end restaurants, Foxwoods would edge out the competition. However, even the fun establishments such as Sugar are in the hefty price range at Foxwoods.

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS – It was nice to see the winners in this category.  David Burke at Foxwoods has been a long-time favorite steakhouse for years.  And Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse at Twin River is way over due for NETG recognition. A few others in the Steakhouse realm to be considered would include Slack’s at Plainridge Park Casino & Jordan’s at Mohegan Sun.

Mohegan Sun Seasons Buffet

BEST BUFFET – Mohegan’s Sunrise Buffet is just the best, ’nuff said.

ENTERTAINMENT, BEST SMALL VENUE – Last year, the Wolf Den was hands down the #1 favorite.  But some changes have taken place since 2016. The Wolf Den doesn’t offer the schedule it once did.  Yes, the Sun offers outstanding free entertainment on the weekends, but free entertainment has increased at other properties.  Foxwoods raised the ante in the Atrium. Plainridge Park Casino not only offers good entertainment at their Revolution Lounge, but also at the Loft – including Comedy. Newport continues it’s free tribute bands on the weekend, and Twin River’s Lighthouse Lounge continues to offer great free entertainment. To secure the top again, the Wold Den must have a full schedule.

Barrett-Jackson In the Mohegan Sun Arena.

ENTERTAINMENT, BEST LARGE VENUE – Even with the addition of MGM Springfield and Wynn Boston Harbor in 2019, the Mohegan Sun Arena will still be the best venue in New England.

BEST CASINO SLOTS – Slot machines become a very personal thing for those who only gamble on slots. Some like older classic reels or even classic video slots.  Some enjoy the latest machine introduced to the casino floor.  Mohegan Sun’s slot inventory is in a constant state of flux.  While Foxwoods has recently added more slots and the latest slots, in 2017 they were still catching up with Stadium Gaming and renovations, especially in the Cedars Casino. Of course, Plainridge has many new slots since it opened in 2015, but the classic Aristocrat, IGT, and Williams games found in casinos like Newport Grand, Twin River, Hollywood Casino and the CT casinos are not to be found. The best mix is still Connecticut’s casinos.

Jacks or Better best paytable (called 9/6 because of the full house and flush pay out). 

BEST VIDEO POKER – Mohegan Sun is the only New England Casino to offer full pay VP – Jacks or Better – at the quarter level up. As long as 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.

BEST TABLE GAMES – Table game players of all levels appreciate good rules & low starting limits, especially on traditional games.  In New England, Foxwoods and MoSun have this covered. Maine casinos, while having similar rules, lack the amount and mix of traditional table & “carnival” games.  Again, from experience, we expect Wynn & MGM to offer higher limits (MGM National Harbor low limit for BJ is usually $25) and less favorable rules (Wynn on the Las Vegas Strip has on 2X odds on craps tables).  Here, Twin River offers table games with slightly higher limits, with most games starting at $10.

Mohegan Sun Racebook

BEST RACEBOOK – The Sun took over first place in this category. While both CT casinos do have good racebooks, this may change in the future. Online better and sports betting in now on the legislative table in most New England states.

BEST PLAYERS CLUB – Even with changes, Foxwoods continues to lag behind Mohegan Sun.  Penn National has made strides with its two New England Casinos (Plainridge Park, MA & Hollywood Bangor, ME) but this, too, might change with the introduction of MLife at MGM Springfield. With properties on both east & west coast, the portfolio alone will be enough to take the top spot.

POKER ROOM – Even without the World Poker Tour affiliation, Foxwoods continues to be the best in New England, and one of the best in the country.

WHAT WILL 2018 BRING?

Armory Marketplace, part of MGM Springfield

MGM Springfield will definitely throw a wrench into the neat control that Foxwoods & MoSun has over the smaller casinos.  Twin River continues to be the New England Enigma concerning where they will be in this mix. 2018 will be an exciting year in New England’s Casino Industry.

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Foxwoods Rewards – Before and After

Foxwoods Resort Casino

Well, it’s been three months since Foxwoods Resort Casino changed a few things concerning it’s rewards program.  With all the sincerity of a squirrel after the first acorn of fall, so, too, I sought out to inform you of these changes and present our followers with a comparison of then and now.

According to the Foxwoods web site, “The New Foxwoods Rewards Program supposedly accelerates you to higher tiers faster than ever, whether you play Slots, Tables, Poker, Keno or bet at Race Book. Now, all earned Foxwoods Tier Credits and Rewards Points will make upgrading to the next Tier more rewarding for our Members, plus you can enjoy more benefits and their NEW Monthly Choice Benefit.”  Sounds great.  But let’s look closer………..

Earning Period & Tier Credits

Earning tier credits will now be 6 months instead of 12 months starting October 1, 2017.  That seems to make it bigger demand on your play.  But the number of tier credits for each of the same levels has also been diminished. Members must earn the minimum number of qualifying Tier Credits during a 6-month time period to advance to the next Tier. The total number of qualifying Tier Credits for each card level is as follows:
Wonder: 0 – 399 (previously was 0-899 Tier Credits)
Gold: 400 – 1,999 (previously was 900-2,399 Tier Credits)
Platinum: 2,000 – 9,999 (previously was 2,400-31,999 Tier Credits)
Diamond: 10,000+ (previously was 32,000+ Tier Credits)

This seems to be a plus, with less credits needed relatively speaking. By moving to a 6-month program, Members do not need to earn as many Tier Credits, which allow them to advance to the next Tier faster.

Tier credits Will reset to 0 on October 1 and April 1 each year. Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Tier levels will be reevaluated on a semi-annual basis. (Does this mean if you “barely” make the next level, you could still be down-graded?  It seems that they have provided a little loophole for themselves, now, doesn’t it!) While Tier level upgrades will take place automatically throughout the year as members earn the next level, once a Tier level is achieved, it will be in effect through the end of the qualifying time period (Oct. 1 – March 31 & April 1 – Sep 30 each year).

POINT ACCELERATORS used to be as follows: GOLD-15% Slots/ 30% Tables Games, PLATINUM-20% Slots/ 30% Tables Games, DIAMOND-30% Slots/ 30% Tables.  Nothing on the website describes the previous accelerators, so I must assume they are not offered anymore.

Earning Tier credits through spending at the resort, or through credit cards is not available like other rewards clubs such as Total Rewards of Caesars Entertainment and MLife of MGM International. Earning Tier credits through play is as before, BINGO – 1 Tier points for every 1 Reward point, TABLE GAMES – 2 Tier points for every 1 Reward SLOTS, POKER, KENO, RACE BOOK – 4 Tier points for every 1 Reward point.

Foxwoods Rewards has four levels.

Big Change – Choice Credits

Previously players could choose between your choice of Bonus Slot Play, Free Bet or Rewards Points Accelerator each month by visiting the rewards club and making the choice on the 1st, 11th and 21st of each month.  Now, your offers will be based on your play during that period, not the previous play period or on your present tier level.  Choice offers will be mailed to certain Rewards members and will be available ONLY on specific days during the month, again, according to your play.  Foxwoods Rewards Points on all Tiers will expire from an account if there is no activity on the account for over 12 months.

Rewards Points are for players to use toward hotel rooms, dining, entertainment, golf, spa services, retail purchases, select Tanger Outlets stores throughout the day’s play based on the type of game they are playing, their average bet, and length of play. If you are unhappy with your offers, you can contact someone at rewardssupport@foxwoods.com.

Personal Experience

A Royal flush at a previous play at Foxwoods – gotta love that Ultimate X!

With a very small sample over the last three months, it seems that Video poker accumulates faster than other casinos. I have been able to equal half of last year’s tier points over two months of play already.  But remember, that’s only video poker & slots over an extremely small sample. I have not played table games at Foxwoods.

Personally, I hope this works out.  It seems to be more based on your ADT and your Theoretical worth to the casino than previous years.  The more you play, the better your offers. For more information on that, try our previous post Casino Comps & Your “Average Daily Theoretical”

Please note – gambling for offers is a dangerous slope.  Gamble for the fun and enjoyment. Chasing offers is like chasing losses – it’s easy to go over board. As Cousin Vito says, “Bet With Your Head, Not Over It.”

More updates later as the process of the new Foxwoods Rewards unfolds.

That’s all for now,

Binbin