Massachusetts More Worried, Not Mohegan Sun, About New England’s Casino Share

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Casino Industry Worried?

After chatting with friends and colleagues recently in Las Vegas concerning their thoughts on Massachusetts’ Gaming Expansion, it seemed to be unanimous – Massachusetts is doing it their way, but not necessarily the best way.  They are running a little scared lately, but are too stubborn to show it. It includes badgering Steve Wynn, making Rush Gaming Developers wait for a Region C decision, and letting MGM

MGM Springfield

New rendering of MGM Springfield’s cut down proposal.

change this and that without approval. It seems the Bay State’s opinion of Mohegan Sun Resorts follows the same narrow-minded spin.

Bruce Mohl, from Commonwealth Magazine, recently reported in his article “Casino Border Wars” that Mohegan Sun as an underachiever not good enough for Massachusetts.  With the history Mass casinos so far, they would have been so lucky to have Mohegan Sun part of that gambling Plan.

His reasons for such a poor opinion of the Mohegan Tribe’s casinos?  Well, let’s take a look:

  1. A key reason for the casino’s success was the large number of customers pouring over the border from Massachusetts. That’s True. But let’s include Maine, NH, Vermont, Rhode Island, NY, and NJ (which took a bite out of Atlantic City).  It’s because both Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun are “Destinations,” unlike Plainridge Park Casino (a box of slots – MGM’s own description) and the proposal in Brockton which represents a mid-level locals casino in Nevada.
  2. Not welcome in Palmer.
    Mohegan Palmer Casino

    Mohegan Sun’s rendition of Mohegan Palmer Casino

    Palmer Mohegan Sun applied for the Region A (Western) license of 150 acres of land purchased in Palmer – land that was waste-free (Everett) and didn’t entail bulldozing blocks of historical buildings (MGM in Springfield) and was closer to the newest threat to western Massachusetts. The bid was rejected by 94 votes out of over 5200. Why? It would “destroy the rural character of a town.” So, instead, they mirror the state’s poverty level of 11% and added a Motor Speedway.  Go figure.

  3. Not Welcome in Revere. Mohegan Sun joined forces with Suffolk Downs in Revere in a bid to win the eastern Massachusetts casino license, however, Wynn Resorts was chosen to build a casino in Everett. Wynn was great in winning over the Gaming Commission, by criticizing the Revere proposal as Mohegan Sun’s pursuit was “to protect its flagship casino in Connecticut.”
    mohegan-sun-revere-casino-rendering-7414f532fa69586d

    Rendition of Mohegan Sun at Suffolk Downs in Revere

    The MGC believed it, even though the Mohegan Tribe has made Resorts Casino in AC a winner and it’s Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania continues to be a success.

  4. Protecting It’s Own Casino Interests. Mr. Mohl and the rest of Massachusetts thinks it’s awful that Mohegan would expand to other areas to protect its assets. But, he just doesn’t get it.  MGM & Wynn expanded outside of Las Vegas, and they did it to expand their brand. MGM is looking at Georgia for an additional site, and both are in China. Expanding their brand.  Penn National expanded to Plainville after already owning Hollywood Hotel Casino in Bangor, Maine.  They now own two New England casinos, yet nothing was said about Plainridge Park protecting it’s Hollywood Casino.  The Mohegan Tribe, much like Penn, MGM, Wynn, Caesars’, etc have the right to expand.  If you’re successful in the casino industry, that’s what you do.

Mohl’s bottom line, and I quote, “What all this maneuvering tells you is that Mohegan Sun — and the state of Connecticut — are very worried about the impact of Massachusetts casinos on the casino businesses in Connecticut and willing to do just about anything to blunt their impact.”

If something doesn’t scare you, or threaten you, ignore it? But if it is a concern, pay a lot of attention to it – and that’s just what Massachusetts is doing.  CT knows that more casinos in New England will impact their two large destination casinos, so they are doing something about it.  But Massachusetts continues to look south to CT and south-east to Rhode Island as both states make plans to battle or New England’s gamblers.

Rendition Wampanoag Casino in Taunton

Rendition Wampanoag Casino in Taunton

Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge Park Casino in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is the state most worried about it’s share of the pie.  MGM wouldn’t be trying to stall CT’s third casino and the MGC wouldn’t be considering no Region C license due to the Wampanoag’s casino proposal gaining momentum if they weren’t. Plainridge Park has seen two straight months of decline – a sudden concern – and Twin River & the CT casinos have seen positive revenue in recent months.  MGM says it’s not worried, but continues to cut back its approved proposal in Springfield, and both MGM & Wynn won’t be making money for the Bay State until late 2018.

So who’s doing the most maneuvering and who is the most worried?

I say Massachusetts.

That’s all for now.

 

Binbin

 

Massachusetts Casinos – A Closer Look at Brockton and Rush Street Gaming

Proposed Brockton Casino Look

Proposed Brockton Casino Look

I have all along thought New Bedford would be the best Choice for the Region C casino license in Massachusetts.  I thought the close vote to approve and the close proximity to Brockton’s High School were not good signs.  I also thought in April when I posted “Is Brockton Mass REALLY Ready for a Casino?” that Rush Gaming seemed a bit tainted by fines with underage gambling.

So, for the benefit of New England’s Gamblers, going the extra mile (500 miles to be exact), NE Time Gambling decided to travel to Pittsburgh to visit a Rush Street Gaming casino – Rivers Casino.  Oh, the things we must do for our followers.th (52)

Rush Street is proposing to construct a 250,000-square-foot gaming facility, 250-room hotel, event and entertainment space and 3,000 parking spots on the Brockton Fairgrounds property. thIf what I saw in Pittsburgh is what Rush Street has in mind, then I may have been wrong in my first appraisal.  (This property makes Plainridge Park look pitiful in size and amenities.) Rivers Casino is a clean, spacious, casino th (54)that is smaller than the proposed Brockton facility with 120,000 square feet of casino floor at Rivers Casino, the premiere gaming destination in the Pittsburgh area. Here is my quick analysis:

  • Gambling –  over 2,900 slot machines and 100 tables are available for play.  A poker room, and high limit area is available.   However, Video poker players will still have to visit Connecticut for playable pay tables. The best VP is 8/5 JOB – 8/6 at the $1 level.  The rest of the VP games are just not good enough to mention.
  • Slots Denomination Trickery? – Concerning slots, a wide variety is available.  However, one must be careful to watch the denomination. Penny & 2 penny slots are mixed together.  And, Rivers casino is rated in the bottom third of Pennsylvania’s casino slot payouts.
  • Friendly service is what we noticed immediately.
  • It is spacious – both between rows of machines and throughout the casino.
  • Dining included five venues from cafe to steakhouse, and all were bright and modern.  There are plenty of places to sit and relax, looking out on the the Ohio River.
  • The buffet, which is by no means Bellagio’s Buffet in Vegas,
    th (55)

    Great view of the Ohio River

    certainly was big enough to fit the type of mixed clientele that visit and, while not as big, would be similar to the buffets at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods in variety.  The Mongolian stir fry station and create-your-own-pasta stations are great alternatives.  Disappointing was a rather barren salad bar.

  • Four entertainment clubs & Bars with live music ranging from duel piano and jazz, to DJ and dance club.
  • One innovation is their beverage bar.  Free for all patrons to get coffee, soda, or water whenever they want.
    th (53)

    Beverage Bar at Rivers Casino – free to patrons!

    M Resort in Las Vegas was the first I had seen years ago to try this, but too many were coming in to take advantage (filling up gallon jugs with water and soda for home!) so M Resort discontinued it.  Rivers’s Casino station was smaller and seemed well appreciated.

 

All in all, I was impressed with Rivers Casino.  If Brockton’s Casino, developed by Rush Street, is similar, then Brockton would have a winner here – at least the developers and Mayor think so:

“My assumption is that because of the location of Brockton, which is much closer to 2 million people … we would drive higher revenue,” said lawyer and former 10-year Brockton Mayor Jack Yunits, who represents Brockton Fairgrounds owner George Carney in casino matters.

“When you look at the population areas that would potentially come to a casino, Brockton is 21 miles from Boston,” echoed consultant Joe Baerlein, a spokesman for Mass Gaming & Entertainment, the developer behind Brockton’s $650 million casino proposal.  According to Google Maps, the Brockton Fairgrounds is 24 miles from downtown Boston while Cottage Street in New Bedford is 59 miles.

So, I believe the Massachusetts Gaming Commission have a nice problem on their hands.  A beautiful luxurious Resort on the water of New Bedford, or a modern resort with the look of old Brockton – both run by companies that can run a casino right.  Both are equally good opportunities for two cities economically in need, and they are very different.

That’s all for now.

Binbin

Plainridge an Amazing Success – Give It Time to Really Evaluate It

172165-Happy-Independence-DayJim Hand of the Sun Chronicle reports “Plainridge Park Casino is expected to generate about $200 million a year in revenue, and it’s off to a booming start.”

 

image

Jim Hand of the Sun Chronicle reports that the slot machine parlor handled $6.1 million in gross revenue.

 

392168-entering-plainridge-park-dc214Does this really surprise anyone?

Gamblers and non-gamblers are going to Plainridge for many reasons:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Closer proximity to home
  3. Non-smoking
  4. It’s the new kid on the block
  5. Other reasons, like – affiliation to Penn Gaming Rewards, fan of Doug Flutie, enjoying tables games alone……

But if you think it’s the amenities, the gambling or the entertainment, then just back off a minute.

Remember when the “new” ice cream flavor was cookie dough?  (am I dating myself?) That’s all you heard, “cookie dough this and cookie dough that.”  After many new flavors over time, cookie dough has remained a favorite.  Why – consistent quality, you know what you’re getting and the other new flavors, while interesting and fun to try, just weren’t the same as cookie dough for your palette.

thSo, Plainridge is the new flavor, the new kid, the newest thing for gamblers – really, are you surprised by their success?  Check with me in two years, when competition ramps up, the real casinos begin to appear in Massachusetts, Twin River and Oxford has hotels, and CT & Maine continue their preparation for competing with the big boys in Everett & Springfield.

I certainly don’t want to “poo-poo” it’s success.  The response has been certainly been amazing.  And Massachusetts has lots to be optimistic about:

  • $320 million over the next 12 months
  • Forty percent of the revenue goes to the state general fund.
  • 9 percent goes toward a fund supporting the horse racing industryth (1) – with Plainridge Park also being a harness horse track, currently the only place with live racing in Massachusetts.
  • Of the $6.1 million spent at Plainridge last week, $2.4 million will go to the state and $583,916 toward racing.
  • State Gaming Commission officials estimate over the year Plainridge will handle $200 million with $98 million going to the state in taxes.
  • 81 percent of Plainridge employees are Massachusetts residents.

So, enjoy it now.  Hopefully, it will be successful for many years to come – especially for those who work there. Besides, tough competition among all of New England’s Casinos is best for us – the casino patron.  It translates to better promotions, more free slot play, more exciting events to be a part of, and better gambling (hopefully).

Free market competition – it’s the American way.

Happy Independence Day.

Binbin