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

 

MGM Changes To Casino Project Makes Springfield Underwhelming

imagesWhen I read MGM Resorts was about to change the plan for their project in Springfield, I thought it would be to compete at a higher level, to make it a resort like Wynn, like Foxwoods and like Mohegan Sun.

Instead, they have decided to take away the hotel tower – the one thing that would scream at I-90 “Here we are, you gotta see this!”

MGM Springfield

First rendering with the now defunct 25 story hotel.

The 25-story glass-facade hotel is being moved to the corner of Main and Howard streets, with the glass-facade hotel design has been abandoned altogether.  The hotel will continue to have 250 rooms despite the change in design from 25 floors to six floors.  According to MassLive writer Peter Goonan, “The lobby would be located on the first floor, adjacent to retail, and guest rooms would be located on floors two through six.”

Now remember, there will still be 250 rooms.  Any idea what kind of modern math MGM is using for this?  Maybe less high-end suites?  Smaller room sizes?

MGM Springfield

New rendering of project, with hotel fore front.

By the way, the parking garage has been downsized to one floor – in the middle of a city! On a busy weekend, where will the parking be?  Will you have to pay?  You can’t put a “Ticket-In,Ticket-Out” voucher from a slot into a parking meter to pay for parking every two hours.

According to Michael Mathis, president and chief executive officer of MGM Springfield,  “We think the changes along Main Street and this new layout is more in line with a true downtown mixed-use development that will make MGM Springfield the premier urban resort in the industry.”

This brings more questions than answers.  Less enticing hotel options will bring buses, day-trippers, and rely on the locals to bring in business.  Ask Atlantic City how that’s working out for them.  And ask the businesses surrounding Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun if their business grew with the casinos expansion.  Simply put, casinos are designed to get you in and keep you in – period.

Some of the latest research points to the fact that urban casinos tend to cannibalize the very local economy that that it is trying to improve, due to the fact that the first “regulars” expected to support the finances of the casino are local. Without an established chain of casinos in Springfield, and no East Coast presence to speak of, MGM will be starting with local dollars – attracting a primarily local or regional audience.  The money that gets gambled away in the casino would otherwise be spent on other entertainment options in the city.

Kiss this beautiful tower good-bye!

Kiss this beautiful tower good-bye!

And now they are taking away the memorable lighthouse, the beacon, the form of the resort – the hotel tower.

Let’s face it, gamblers want good odds, easy access, lots of available parking, good amenities and all within the confines of the casino resort.  We’re lazy, we don’t want to walk a lot, we don’t want to leave the casino to eat and take in the culture of the city.  And those that do aren’t spending the amount of money the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and Mass legislators are looking for. These changes might sound good and appease the gambling naysayers & and the historic building communities, but it won’t increase the bottom line – cash for the casino, and cash for the State of Massachusetts.

That’s all for now.

Binbin