New England Casino Gambling History – Updated

What seemed to be a slow trot towards socially approving gambling in New England has changed to a sprint, with no finish line in sight. Expansion continues, with the word “saturation” thrown around annually. While we don’t know what the future holds concerning sports betting, casinos in Bridgeport, CT., East Windsor, CT., and southeastern Massachusetts, and the future competition in southern New England, we can look back to see how we got here.

My interest in gambling history began with playing card games – playing cribbage and Michigan Rummy while in elementary school. With visits to Hartford Jai-Alai and Plainfield Greyhound Racetrack during my twenties, visits to the Sands in Atlantic City and Foxwoods Bingo in my thirties, and the Connecticut expansion in the 1990’s, I was hooked.

"Roll the Bones" by Dr. David Schwartz

“Roll the Bones” by Dr. David Schwartz

One of my favorite books is “Roll the Bones” by Dr. David Schwartz. In his book, Dr. Dave explains that “….the human predilection for a wager shaped human history from the Ice Age to the Information Age. People spend nearly one trillion dollars worldwide on gambling a year–wouldn’t you like to learn a little about how we got there?”  The fact is, I did!.

To read our NETG review, click here.

New England played a big part in the assertion of gambling in America. According to the California State Library, English settlers differed from their Puritanical neighbors in New England in many ways, but one influenced the early colonies to continue traditional styles of living in a new world , which included gambling, considering as a “harmless diversion, a popular and accepted activity.” Lotteries were used to bail out the Early Colonies when financial backers of the colonies began to see gambling as the solution to diminishing finances needed for the war effort. All 13 original colonies established lotteries, usually more than one, to raise revenue. Lotteries continue to be a main source of revenue for all six New England states.

Once Upon a time….

The Pequot War of 1637 set the stage for the separation of Pequot & Mohegan Tribes. Over 350 years after, both tribes started the New England Casino expansion we see today.

The Pequot War of 1637 set the stage for the separation of Pequot & Mohegan Tribes. Over 350 years after, both tribes started the New England Casino expansion we see today.

The Pequot and Mohegan Tribes were once one tribe, but war with colonists, differences with other tribes, and different tribal and colonial alliances caused a split that continues to this day.  Over 250 years later, a bingo hall in 1985 began the history of gaming in New England.

I should mention that casino gambling found a home in the 1800’s in Newport, Rhode Island, not to mention the numerous greyhound & horse tracks, parimutuel parlors, and Jai alai frontons in Milford & Hartford CT, and Newport, RI. However, in the past ten years, the horse-racing industry has seen a major decrease in raceway operations, Jai-Alai has moved out of the state, and parimutuel parlors continue to diminish in popularity, which may change with more legal sports betting in all six states

I you enjoy my look back at the journey of legalized gambling in New England below.

The New England Casino Historical Dateline:

Foxwoods Started it all with Bingo. This picture is the expanded Bingo Hall before Casino Expansion

Foxwoods Started it all with Bingo. This picture is the expanded Bingo Hall before Casino Expansion in 1992.


1992

The first New England Casino as Foxwoods opens its doors in Mashantucket, CT

The Rainmaker at Foxwoods Resort Casino - part of the original casino before many expansions.

The Rainmaker at Foxwoods Resort Casino – part of the original casino before many expansions.

Rhode Island approves VLT gaming machines (classII) at Lincoln Greyhound Park & Newport Jai Alai Originally built for greyhound racing, Twin River Casino is now a full casino.


1996

The Mohegan Tribe opens the second NE casino in Uncasville, CT

A Dollar Coin from Mohegan Sun Opening

A Dollar Coin from Mohegan Sun Opening


2005

Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway opens in Bangor, Maine

Hollywood Casino, Bangor Maine

Hollywood Casino, Bangor Maine


2007

Lincoln Greyhound Park turns into Twin River Casino with class III gaming; Newport Grand soon follows, redesigning without Jai-Alai

Twin River as Lincoln Park before Major Expansion

Twin River as Lincoln Park before Major Expansion


2008

MGM joins Foxwoods with additional hotel / casino

MGM Tower at Foxwoods - Right side.

MGM Tower at Foxwoods – Right side.


2011

MA legislature approves Expanded Gaming Act allowing construction of 3 Resort casinos & one “slot’s only casino”


2012

Oxford Casino opens in Oxford, Maine

Oxford Casino, Maine

Oxford Casino, Maine


2013

MGM pulls out of it’s Foxwoods partnership

MGM Ends Agreement with Foxwoods

MGM Ends Agreement with Foxwoods


2015

Plainridge Park Casino Opens at Plainridge Raceway as the first Massachusetts casino (slots-only)

Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge Park Casino in Massachusetts


2018

     A Big Year for Gambling, Casinos and Hotels in           New England:

Oxford Casino, Oxford ME, adds Hotel, expanded casino and Ox Pu

Oxford Hotel & Casino

MGM Springfield Resort Casino opens

MGM Springfield

Newport Grand Slots Casino closes

Newport Grand Slots, Newport, RI

Tiverton Casino & Hotel opens

Tiverton Casino/ Hotel.

Twin River Casino adds Hotel

Twin River Hotel Lobby

Mohegan Sun opens Earth Expo Center

Mohegan Expo Center

Rhode Island approves and opens the first Sports Betting in New England

Opening day of Phase I Sports Book at Twin River Casino


2019

Encore Boston Harbor to open in the fall

Encore Boston Harbor rendition, courtesy of Encore Boston Harbor pressroom


You can find this post as a permanent menu item in our header above.

Binbin

Massachusetts Casinos “By The Numbers”

“Casinos By The Numbers” featuring

Massachusetts.

In 2011 the Mass. legislature approved the Expanded Gaming Act allowing construction of 3 Resort casinos & one “slot’s only casino.”  The slot parlor opened at Plainridge Park Casino in June 2015, opened by Penn National with the already established harness racing park and simulcast venue.

Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge Park Casino in Massachusetts on Opening Day

Two casino resorts, MGM Springfield, which opened in August 2018, and Encore Boston Harbor, under development to open in 2019. One more casino license may be issued for the southeastern part of the state, but the process has been delayed due to uncertainty about potential competition from the planned Mashpee Wampanoag casino.

Plainridge Park Casino & Raceway
MGM Springfield Resort Casino
Hotel
Location Plainville, MA Springfield, MA
# of Hotels None 1
Hotel Rooms None 236 room, 16 suites
Hotel Amenities None 1 pool, 1 Spa, Gym
Gambling
Legal Gambling Age 21 21
Casino Size 170,000 sq. feet 125,000 sq/ft
Smoke-Free Gaming Non-Smoking Casino Non-Smoking Casino
Total # of Slots & VP 1250 including  Video Roulette, Video Craps & Video Blackjack 2550
Comped Alcoholic Drinks No Comped Drinks until 4:00AM
Table Games None 120 Tables – includes Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Mini Baccarat, Midi Baccarat, Pai Gow, Three Card Poker, Four Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em, Criss Cross, Chase the Flush, War and Big 6.
Poker Room No 23 Tables
Racebook Simulcast Wagering, Live Harness racing (seasonal) None
Rewards Club MARQUEE REWARDS Four Levels Connected to over 20 Penn National Properties Across U.S. Tier Status is biannual MLIFE – 5 Levels. Connected to over 20 MGM Properties Properties Across U.S./ Tier Status is annual
VIP Lounges None None
Dining
Food Options 1 Fine Dining, 1 Casual Dining, 3 Food  Court, 1 Racebook 2 Fine Dining; 7 Casual (includes South End Market) ; 1 chain
Buffet No No
Bars Two Three
Entertainment
Venues 1 Live Music Venue, 1 small entertainment venue 2 Large Venues; 3 Live/DJ/Club/ Lounge Venues
Convention/ Meeting Space 7,500 square feet of flexible space 42,500 sq/ft Conference/ Meeting Space
Other Entertainment Options None Tap Arcade;  Bowling; Top Golf; Art Collection; The Plaza, Movie Theater
Retail 1 Store 4 Stores
Owner Penn National Gaming MGM Resorts International
PARKING Free  Free
Hours of 24/7 24/7
Operation

MGM Springfield Shows Progress & Promise

MGM Springfield area

MGM has opened its first building in Springfield for its $1 billion casino & resort. About 50 employees moved into the casino’s new administrative office this week. The building will eventually house some 300 corporate and human resource workers, as well as a training school for prospective casino workers.

This prompted us at NETG to check the progress in Springfield. How has the process been going?

MGM International and Jim Murren, CEO, could not be happier. Even MGM’s stall tactics with the MMCT Mohegan/Pequot Casino and the creative distraction of a Bridgeport, CT casino can’t take away from the process success in Springfield.  MGM builds resorts, and does it well.

The “Casino Lab”

MGM Casino Lab

Steve Urbon, from SouthCoastToday, reported in August on the place that includes “a wildly colorful carpet and low, indirect lighting with spotlights on the four felt-topped blackjack tables, two poker tables, custom chips, craps table, and roulette wheel…..hands-on training for table games, for both players and the casino dealers. It is designed to be completely realistic” The room is part of Bristol Community College’s CATCH Institute and is the first and only school in the state to win the Gaming Commission’s Gaming School Certificate and is located at the Taunton campus inside the Silver City Galleria Mall.

Recently, it was reported that MGM Springfield and the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute will provide details on how to register and enroll in classes to train for such games as blackjack, poker, roulette and mini-baccarat. MGM expects to hire 450 table-game dealers, with hiring expected to begin this summer. See Kenneth R. Gosselin‘s report MGM Springfield: Wanted Table-Game Dealers for more details and if you’re interested in becoming a dealer.

PlayMyWay

Programs such as PlayMyWay focus on problem gambling prevention and customer protection practices. Its intention is to help players make decisions about gambling, allow them to monitor and understand their playing behavior in real time, and support their decisions. At this time, the PlayMyWay program is only at Massachusetts’s only open casino, Plainridge Park Casino and seems to be working well. Even though the program is not mandatory by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for the other two casinos, MGM Springfield and Wynn Boston Harbor (opening in fall of 2019), Michael Mathis, president and COO of MGM Springfield, and Robert DeSalvio, president of Wynn Boston Harbor, the commission voted 5-0 to allow both casinos to implement PlayMyWay as a voluntary program. Mathis was quoted as saying “MGM believes that a voluntary operator driven approach to play management will achieve the commission’s and operators’ shared goals of a best in class responsible gaming framework,”

Diversity for Springfield

MGM is committed to create a diverse workforce at it’s Massachusetts casino. According to Peter Goonan at MassLive “Mathis said he is proud to say that out of 16 department heads hired, more than half are minorities and/or women. MGM Springfield has set goals for diversity hiring in its formal agreements with the Gaming Commission and the city of Springfield.” In addition, “the hiring of minorities for the casino project was listed as 22.2 percent as of Sept. 30, 2017, as compared with the project goal of 15.3 percent, according to MGM Springfield. The hiring of women was 9.25 percent as compared with the project goal of 6.9 percent, and the hiring of veterans was listed at 10.16 percent as compared with the goal of 8 percent.”

Casino On Schedule

MGM Springfield Interior Lobby, courtesy Jim Kinney | jkinney@repub.com

Also covered by Mr. Goonan in a December post how impressed the MGC and Chairman Steve Crosby was with MGM’s plans. Commission members agreed that photographs of the work site, comparing last year to this year, showed dramatic change. They were also impressed with a report about the hotel that is under construction on site, including an interior view of what the hotel rooms will look like, with Crosby saying the view was “really cool.” MGM is taking a new path in its hotel design, giving a touch of Springfield & New England in its decor and design. For a gallery of photos from MassLive courtesy of Jim Kinney from the Springfield Republic, CLICK HERE.

MGM joins Cambridge College

Cambridge College and MGM are launching the Commonwealth’s first ever Hospitality pre-apprentice program in greater Springfield. Hospitality careers include event planners, travel agents, hotel staff and food service. MGM Springfield and other local organizations will help prepare the workforce for these high demand positions. The program consists of four weeks of classes to help students prepare for entry-level jobs in the field. This is must needed help for a city struggling with unemployment.  While having a modest decrease in unemployment rate, it is still close to double that of the Massachusetts average.  Covered by WesternMassNews “[MGM Springfield] is going to have approximately 2,200 of the 3,000 jobs as full-time positions.”

Anticipation is Building

I too am getting caught up in the excitement of the addition of another casino/resort in New England. This one looks to be like no other in New England and the country.

For a great encapsulation of MGM Springfield, please visit Steve Ruddock’s recent post:

MGM SPRINGFIELD TAKING A PAGE OUT OF THE PATRIOTS’ PLAYBOOK

Go MGM Springfield, and Go Patriots!

Binbin