It certainly hasn’t been an easy start for Penn National and it’s newest New England Casino in Plainville, Massachusetts. Being the first of four scheduled to all be in place by 2018, it has been watched and scrutinized like a family’s first-born baby.
A roller-coaster of success and disappointment has followed. But it’s early. Remember when people laughed about how silly a themed hotel/casino called The Mirage would be? Of course not – It Was 1989! Well, who’s laughing now? (And now Steve Wynn, the mastermind behind the Mirage and so many other fabulous casinos around the world, is here, in New England!)
So, listed below are the titles of posts covering the first year of Plainridge Park Casino. Next year, PPC II – the sequel……
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
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:
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.
Not welcome in Palmer.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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?
Taunton Casino Rendering for Mashpee Wampanoags Proposal
The Boston Globe reported last week that the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe appear to be making significant progress in its quest to secure land in Massachusetts to build a Las Vegas-style casino.
We’ve been hearing about this on-again, off-again casino for three years, but it now seems closer than ever to fruition.
Proposed Brockton Casino
The federal government recently informed the tribe in a letter that a decision in their case is imminent. The tribe needs the federal government to help them convert 150 acres of land into a reservation, which would allow for the casino to be built under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The tribe wants to build a $500 million casino in Taunton, which is in the Southeastern part of the state. But, Brockton also is competing for the SE license in Region C.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs seems confused on what exactly it’s communications to the Mashpee Wampanoags means.
the tribe’s request is under review
they are inviting comments for a 30-day period on the tribe’s request to issue a reservation proclamation
no date has been identified in which a reservation proclamation will be issued by the Department of the Interior
issuance of a reservation proclamation is a separate and distinct action from acquiring land in trust…”
It seems the important part is that a reservation proclamation would allow the tribe to construct a casino in Taunton if the land has been turned into a trust.
“This letter to the City of Taunton is an indication that the Interior Department is one step closer to making a final decision on our full application,” tribal council chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a press release regarding the letter. But the letter refers to looking into the trust, not deciding on it.
Estele C. Borges, president of Taunton’s City Council, said that the council and the City of Taunton have already responded when more than 60 percent of city residents voted in favor of a casino to be constructed in Taunton. So the BIA seems to have the last say.
What will this mean to Brockton? It seems that two casinos in Region C, so close to Rhode Island Casinos and the new Plainridge slots joint may add to the saturation problem. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission did refer to the fact that neither Brockton or the then alive New Bedford proposal might not see a casino. It might depend solely on the BIA’s decision with the Mashpee Wampanoags casino in Taunton.