Connecticut Casino Expansion Intensifies

 

MGM  Bridgeport rendering top. Proposed MMCT joint venture casino between CT’s Mohegan & Pequot tribes for East Windsor, CT. below.

To add a casino or not add a casino? – That is NOT the question. To add two casinos? – Now that’s the question!

To get the prequel for this post, click on the the post “Wynn, MGM, Bridgeport & MMCT – Questions Abound.”  

The battle at the border between MGM Springfield and the MMCT joint casino venture by the Mohegan & Pequot tribes is going on three years now. But events in March took the conflict to a new height. Highlights?  Sure, there are plenty:

  • CT Attorney General George Jepsen advised legislators on Thursday to consider and test the market for opening Connecticut to commercial casinos, believing that commercial casinos would not jeopardize the $160 million in slots revenue that the state expects to collect in 2018 from the exclusivity deal signed with tribal owners Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owners of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino.

    Attorney General Jepson

  • According to MGM, Connecticut left tons of money on the table by accepting the first casino proposal that came their way. MGM has argued for the past year that the casino proposal process should be open to commercial interests. MGM would also pick a different location – Bridgeport, which is further from the MGM Springfield than East Windsor.
  • MGM wants to build a casino and hotel on the Bridgeport waterfront – the only place MGM is interested in. A bill to support this was in jeopardy after committee leadership refused to hold a vote on it, but it was passed with one major change – Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun will still be allowed to develop their own casino in East Windsor, CT, minutes from the Massachusetts border and from MGM Springfield. Due to the change in the billMGM isn’t so so sure it’s interested if the MMCT casino in East Windsor is allowed to be built.

    Connecticut State Capitol

  • Then, Connecticut lawmakers approved a revised bill that could pave the way for the construction of the state’s fourth casino. The piece of legislation nearly died in the General Assembly’s Public Safety and Security Committee, but last-ditch efforts from lawmakers supporting the idea helped it survive with a 21-3 vote in favor. If approved in the Legislature, the bill would allow for the opening of a new bidding process for operators interested in building a casino in Connecticut. In case the proposed commercial casino bill reaches the desk of Governor Dannel Malloy and he signs it into law, the state of Connecticut would then subsequently allow the local Indian tribes, casino developers, and other qualified entities to submit their respective proposals for establishing the fourth legally authorized gaming venue in the state.

You can’t make this stuff up!  At any given time, either side sound like adolescents not getting their way, only this is different – there’s a lot of money at stake!

Remember to go to TravelZork to see our monthly post, as well as all of their great coverage of  travel, Vegas & casino resources on the web.

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.

Binbin

2018 NEW ENGLAND CASINO AWARDS – We Need Your Participation!

2017 NEW ENGLAND CASINO AWARDS

Sponsored by

Start thinking and get ready to rate New England’s Casinos!

The time has come to for all you crazy (or serious) New England Gamblers to vote for this year’s. But you don’t need to live in New England to vote – New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey – let your voice be heard!

This is the third year for NETimeGambling’s annual Awards. Nominations for this year’s New England Casino Awards, or the “NETy’s,” ending this Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Click on the link below to place your votes. Only 20 questions. Vote only once. 

TAKE ME TO THE NEW ENGLAND CASINO AWARDS SURVEY –>

MGM Springfield Releases New Details with Local Flavor

Main Street, Red Rose Pizza in the far left corner. In between is Howard Street to the Cinema, Bowling, and Event area

A very positive article was published by Jim Kinney in MassLive, concerning local interests represented by MGM Springfield. It seems MGM has some very keen interest in our unique New England heritage.

Part of the original plan was to include a bowling alley. Today’s post mentioned it’s not just bowling lanes, but something dear to New England’s keglers – candle pin bowling.

Candle pin bowling uses three small bowling balls, with none of the “dead wood” removed. A score of 120 is equal to 180 in ten-pin.

Most people outside of New England have never bowled candle pins, or even knew they existed! According to Mr. Kinney’s post, Alex Dixon, general manager of MGM, was quoted saying, “If it’s what your local community wants, it just doesn’t make sense not to include those things.” Bravo, someone is listening.

Preserving and uplifting the city is a crucial part in the casino’s presence. A movie theater and ice skating rink is also planned, and what is more winter fun in New England than ice skating.

The French Congregational Church.

For historic preservation, MGM Springfield even moved the French Congregational Church, known since 1919 as the First Spiritualist Church, is a historic High Victorian Gothic structure that sat on the complex site.

Other points of interest include:

  • “MGM hopes to open the first through the eighth floor of 95 State St. for its offices in January. This will be the first permanent space MGM will occupy at the site”
  • “The ninth through 11th floors will be the site of MGM Springfield’s table games school for dealers run cooperatively with Springfield Technical Community College and Holyoke Community College”
  • “Al Griggs, vice chairman of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, asked about having locally grown foods at MGM. Dixon said yes, that’s the plan, saying that incorporating locally grown food not only helps farmers but it improves quality in the restaurants and helps MGM meet its environmental sustainability goals.”

MGM has vowed to consider Springfield’s history and architecture in building this casino / resort.  Along with keeping that promise, they are looking for those things that makes it different from previous ventures over the years – the feel of New England.

 

BinBin

MGM Springfield – An “Urban” Casino

Mass Mutual Civic Center, Springfield, MA

Springfield casino seeks to blend into historic downtown.

Most new “brick & mortar”casinos, such as future casinos Wynn Boston Harbor & Tiverton Hotel/Casino, are built on open land, set back from their neighbors. But a newer approach is on the rise in Springfield, Massachusetts – the “Urban Casino.”

What is an Urban Casino? Finding a definition is difficult because it’s such a new concept.  These new genre of casinos have certain criteria in common:

This church was moved from the area that will be the casino floor.

  • They are built, usually in already existing buildings, although major renovations or completely new buildings like MGM Grand, are not out if the area.
  • They are built in an already existing Downtown area.
  • They are made to fit in the existing landscape of the city
  • They are not dependent upon having a hotel – some suggest no hotel is best because it allows visitors to explore city areas more, instead of the old idea of self-contained “hold ’em & keep ’em” hotel/casinos.

MGM is bringing a $950 million casino and hotel to the heart of a city with nearly four centuries of history, including the overnight stays of President James Polk and his secretary of state, James Buchanan, who became president in 1857 – according to Sean Murphy of the Boston Globe. “Prodded by local history buffs, MGM has pledged to integrate its 14-acre development into the downtown cityscape by preserving all or a portion of several treasured buildings, including the Union House, the 129-year-old First Spiritualist Church in Springfield which was moved so it could be preserved as part of the casino complex, and will include two very citys landmarks as important bookends on either side – the sturdy Mass Mutual building, built in the early 20th century, and the columned facade of the United Electric building. MGM plans to restore the magnificent United Electric lobby, a masterpiece that features terrazzo floors, marbled walls, and a stained-glass dome, to be displayed at the casino.

Blending In

In this prominent historic district of Detroit, the 30-story hotel tower with 400 guestrooms and suites anchors the property while providing a high-visibility link to the adjacent casino and event center.The idea of an Urban Casino is not new, but MGM’s goal is to blend it into the city of Springfield better than any other urban casinos already built.

The trend began with downtown casinos in Detroit, one of which is the Greektown Hotel-Casino in the historic Greektown District.

MGM Springfield’s plan is similar to Greektown – hotel without tower, casino within a city.

“It’s a glimpse of what future casinos may look like,” said Andrew Klebenow of Global Market Advisers, a Las Vegas-based casino consulting company. “Rather than build an island in the middle of the city, MGM wants to connect to the street grid and allow for the free flow of pedestrians and tourists into and out of its property.”

The casino is only a couple blocks from Court Square, a wide patch of green surrounded by a white steepled church, a building designed by famed 19th-century architect H.H. Richardson, and the classically styled City Hall and Symphony Hall. Nearby is the Mass Mutual Civic Center, an 8,000-seat arena, an arena where MGM will be managing entertainment options in close proximity.

“The idea is for casino patrons to venture out into the city to go to the symphony or to the Civic Center for a show,” said Robert McCarroll, a retired city planner and longtime preservationist.

Other Urban Casinos – OHIO

Horseshoe Cincinnati, now Jack Cincinnati.

Horseshoe Cincinnati,  Cincinnati, Ohio – the first to actually use phrase opened on Monday, March 4, 2013, closed and reopened under the brand Jack Cincinnati Casino in June 2016

The Horseshoe Casino, Cleveland

Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, Ohio (2012) – “originally planned as a temporary facility, but evolving into a permanent casino reusing already existing commercial property.

 

 

A City in Need

For decades, Springfield, the state’s third-largest city, has experienced a steady drain of jobs as factories moved or closed , with it’s current unemployment rate of almost 9 percent is about twice that of the state average. Many officials now look to the casino as the economic savior they were hoping it would be and promised by MGM and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Michael Mathis, president of MGM Springfield, said the company’s plan drew inspiration from the city’s “past and its future potential.” “We are very proud of our urban redevelopment casino model,” he said.

Main Street, Red Rose Pizza in the far left corner. In between is Howard Street to the Cinema, Bowling, and Event area

Here’s hoping the city of Springfield, with a new AHL Hockey franchise, a rise in entertainment options, and an improved transportation infrastructure, will rise to be a top New England destination.  With the connections that MGM International provides, and the comprehensive MLife Rewards Club with ties to 13 Las Vegas properties, MGM Springfield has the potential to become another success in the MGM’s portfolio.

Binbin

MGM – GameSense, Responsible Gambling, Every Property

 

MGM Resorts Logo

MGM Resorts

The gambling industry is consistently maligned for pushing gamblers toward addiction. The fact is that there are strategies the casino business use that influences players gambling more.  Libby Kane, in here article “9 Tricks Casinos Use To Make You Spend More Money” gives you some examples of age old ways a casino can influence your further gambling.

Remember, these chips represent real money.

 

 

We have many pleasures in this world and some do become unmanageable vices.  But, in recent years, the gaming industry has looked at ways to help their patrons stay away from addiction.

Anyone ever notice if a liquor store ever denied clientele from purchases because of suspected alcohol addiction?  Did you ever see someone notify a major cigarette manufacturer to ask that they be banned from purchasing their product?  well, how about the casino industry?

Self-banning, or self-exclusion, is a process of giving a casino permission to stop a player from entering a specific casino and has been available for years. Most compulsive gamblers and their family members believe that self-exclusion is the solution because the problem is the gambler going to the casino.” One of the problems that gamblers and their family members learn is that just because you self-ban from one casino doesn’t mean you’ve banned yourself from others.

When Massachusetts passed the he Expanded Gaming Act in 2011, particular emphasis was placed on encouraging responsible gaming and the prevention of problem gambling. The Act uniquely mandated a physical space for responsible gaming support inside all Massachusetts casinos, and directed MGC to pursue innovative and active methods and tools to meet this legislative mandate.  Plainridge Park Casino, the first Massachusetts casino in Plainville, MA, included three options to help against gambling problems:

  1. GameSenseMA.com, a website with tips and tricks to promote responsible gaming practices
  2. The GameSense Info Center at Plainridge Park Casino, staffed by GameSense Advisors from 9:00am to 1:00am every day
  3. PlayMyWay is an innovative budget-setting tool that prompts rewards card holders to voluntarily choose a daily, weekly and/or monthly budget to track their spending while at Plainridge Park Casino.

For additional coverage of Plainridge Park’s Responsible Gambling Program, check out our previous related posts “Plainridge Park Casino Officially Launches “PlayMyWay” Today!”

and

“Massachusetts Gaming Report – Keeping Track Of Its Residents Gambling Health.”

What came as a big surprise, at least to me, was when MGM recently decided to adopt the GameSense platform to all of ITS properties, due to success at the Plainridge Park property (owned by PennNationalGaming) and the Connecticut Lottery, among others using the program.

It is expected to be used in all Massachusetts casinos – Wynn Boston Harbor & MGM’s MGM Springfield.  Steve Ruddock, in his article

“MGM Adopting GameSense Responsible Gaming Program Throughout Its US Casinos” from OnlinePokerReport

said, “What MGM has likely seen is the light touch GameSense uses, as well as the positive perception of GameSense from casino patrons.”

I’ve always thought that MGM was a profit-first company, with little care for its players. But not only is bold move a plus for everyone, having so much data to use may also help Responsible Gaming Program Design in the future.  Steve continues with four important points:

  1. According to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s annual report, 87.7 percent of survey respondents said their primary concern was resolved by visiting a GameSense Info Center or speaking with a GameSense advisor.
  2. A further 82 percent of survey respondents said they would visit the GameSense Info Center again.
  3. Furthermore, the industry as a whole is becoming more in tune with responsible gaming as a policy, rather than viewing it as a handcuff.
  4. Forward-thinking companies have come to the conclusion that embracing responsible gaming policies — and in doing so attracting the right type of customer — is good for business.

When winning is important to both sides in the casino business, this move by MGM can only be seen as a “win-win.”

Bravo!  MGM!

Binbin


Steve Ruddock

 – Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.

 

 

 

MGM Springfield – A Slideshow of Progress

 

NETG took a ride to Springfield, Mass to see how MGM Springfield’s Urban Casino/Resort was shaping up.  While it looks like it has a long way to go to open in 2018, I would bet MGM International knows how to turn buildings into marvel quickly and efficiently.

So here is a slide show with renderings first, followed by the construction of the same area or structure.  Keep in mind, without permission, and leaving our hard hats at home, this was the closest to the rendering spots as we could get.

I’m including the following MGM Springfield Plan (above) so you can get a perspective of the project.

Enjoy

Binbin

 

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NETimeGambling.com – Highlights of Last Two Weeks

August has arrived, is it the end of summer?  

Well, let’s take you back a few weeks to the best received posts from the past two weeks, with a gambling riddles intertwined…… courtesy of from http://www.jokes4us.com/dirtyjokes/gamblingjokes.html

SO, HERE’S WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED!

July 20th – MGMSpringfield Resort Success is Crucial For Springfield

A comparison post, MGM Springfield two years ago and the present.

What did the dealer say to the deck of cards? ……..”I can’t deal with you anymore.” 

July 24th – Comped Drink Systems Is a Good Change  

Video Poker Bar

While all the other changes by corporate bean counters has me pulling out the little hair I have left, paying for drinks through play is not so bad in this blogger’s opinion.

What does a BlackJack player eat for dinner…..Whatever his comp card allows him to! 

July 25th – Wynn Boston Harbor Drinking Hours Extended With Opposition

My, My………we have seen the influence of MGM on the Massachusetts legislature and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, now the other casino giant has gotten it’s way through the back door.

Whats the difference between online poker and live poker?…….You can cry after a bad beat online and no one will laugh at you. 

 

 

Aug 1st – Gambling Losing Streaks

7 SUGGESTIONS FOR DEALING WITH LOSING STREAKS

 

 

Finally, a quote from Paul Newman  “If you’re playing a poker game and look around the table and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you”

Have a great week!

Binbin

MGMSpringfield Resort Success is Crucial For Springfield

MGM Springfield Casino Entrance

MGM Springfield Casino Entrance

Two years ago, I wrote a similar post to today’s about MGM Springfield.  To compare posts, here it is:

MGM Springfield – Random Thoughts 

I some ways, the project has changed.  All the while, CT & MGM has seemingly been at war over potential revenue & jobs.  So, today, I revisit my opinions and analysis of the MGM Springfield Urban Casino project. 


I want MGM Springfield to succeed……….There, I said it.

Mostly, I want it to bring revenue for an economically needy city, while enhancing the New England Casino landscape, not digging it up. I want it to be beautiful and to enhance the rundown parts of Springfield.

Benefit For a Needy City

Springfield is considered #5 in a list of “Most Dangerous Towns to Live In” by OnlyInYourState.com .  Springfield is the third largest city in Massachusetts – Population: 154,518. Annual crimes per 1,000 residents: 10.39 violent crimes, 45.46 property crimes and 55.85 total reported crimes. “If both property and violent crimes were considered, Springfield would rank #3.”

But I do feel the people of Springfield will benefit with a strong Host Community Agreement.  It  calls for “MGM Resorts to make upfront and advance payments, totaling $15 million to the City of Springfield. The upfront payment will be distributed to the city in installments during the construction phase of the project. When MGM Springfield opens for business, the city will receive in excess of $25 million annually in payments. These monies will be used to enhance public safety, support early childhood education and for general public purposes.” (from the FAQ at MGMSpringfield.com)

Springfield needs the help.  Statistics show that Springfield is in the Top 5 of all Massachusetts towns with: highest divorce rate, highest % of families below the poverty level, highest violent-crime rate, and lowest median family income. (according to WalletHub in “2017’s Best Places to Live in Massachusetts for Families”)

A Great Casino to Visit

I want it to be another casino jewel in New England in southern New England’s Casino Ring as a gambling/tourist destination.  MGM, Wynn, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, Twin River – all large casinos with hotel amenities providing for vacations & stay-cations alike all in a radius of 120 miles.

Eight casinos inside this radius by 2020.

The original plan video can be seen here. The original plans were impressive, but the hotel tower plans have changed, and the parking garage will be lower by two floors. MGM is also moving the apartments in the opening of the video further away from the casino.  Inside, MGM Springfield looks similar to Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas (Sumerlain), with restaurants outlying the casino, and the essential “Center Bar” made so famous in casino design by the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas long ago.  It has modern looks like MGM’s latest “Aria,” but much brighter.

Will MGM have the same poor to mediocre Video Poker paytables and average gaming rules that are in all their other properties?  The exception is Borgata when they purchased Boyd Gaming’s joint share. They now own one of the best casinos in Atlantic City, as well as the entire country. Keeping the good gambling options at Borgata and similar options at MGM Springfield will be crucial to compete with CT, RI & Wynn Boston Harbor for New England’s gambling revenue.

MGM Operation of MassMutual Center

Mass Mutual Civic Center, Springfield, MA

MGM Springfield and Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, announced a joint bid for the five-year contract to operate the MassMutual Center, a multipurpose arena and convention center, in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. Under this joint bid, MGM Springfield would serve as the venue management company and Spectra would provide food and beverage services through its Food Services & Hospitality division. Michael Mathis, President and Chief Operating Officer for MGM Springfield said, “….the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) has a prime opportunity to select the best of the best to operate this great facility.”

No Smoking, No Free Booze

In the casino area, will MGM & Wynn be powerful enough to influence a repeal to the “NO Happy Hour” Law in Massachusetts?  Imagine no alcohol freebies on a casino floor owned by MGM & Wynn – blasphemy!  And remember, ALL Massachusetts casinos are to be non-smoking. The options provided for smokers at Plainridge Park in Plainville seem almost punitive.  Massachusetts Casino Law has the entire casino as non-smoking.

MLife Rewards Club of MGM

MLife Rewards Club of MGM

MLife

A key factor in MGM Springfield’s success will be the connection through its rewards club, MLife, providing perks to MGM’s properties from Las Vegas to the east coast. Earning points in Springfield that can be used in Las Vegas & Biloxi (MGM owns Beau Rivage Resort Casino there) is exciting!  Let’s face it, MGM does own some incredible properties.  Imagine earning connections to stay at Bellagio in Las Vegas, as well as attracting Las Vegans to our little corner of the country.  This attraction can only help MGM to help the city of Springfield and the state of Massachusetts with jobs and revenue.

THE BATTLE CONTINUES

I decided to leave the discussion of MGM’s ongoing battle with Connecticut and their 3rd casino on the CT/MA border for another day.  This is about Springfield’s residents and the ability that MGM has in its hands to help the city rise from its ashes.

Now is the time for action to help save the city of Springfield, to focus on the positives that MGM Springfield brings.

As Jean-Luc Picard said in Star Trek Next Generations, I say to MGM concerning the welfare of Springfield, “Make it so!”

Jean-Luc Picard, “Make It So, MGM!”

 

Binbin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Sarno Needs To Focus on Springfield

According to MassLive’s Peter Goonan, Mayor Domenic Sarno reacted to a court decision favorable MMCT’s proposal for a new tribal casino in Connecticut, by referring  to it as a “glorified slots parlor.”

Wow, did he follow that up with a “nah, nah-nah, nah nah… or sticking out his tongue?”

Sarno obviously doesn’t know the differences in casino offerings.  If he wants to see what a “slot parlor” IS, he should go east to Plainville, MA where Plainridge Park Casino, the only Massachusetts casino resides and is the only one bringing in revenue.

You see Mr. Sarno, slot joints don’t have table games.  But, Mr. Sarno, let’s compare the casino aspect of each future property:

PROPERTY                          MGM SPRINGFIELD                       MMCT EAST WINDSOR, CT CASINO

Gaming Space                          125,000-square-foot                       200,000 square foot
Slot Machines                          3,000 slot machines                        2,000 slot machines
Table Games                               75 gaming tables                            50 to 150 gaming tables
Both will have a poker room, high limit areas, hospitality services like restaurants, shops, and entertainment.

Proposed MMCT joint venture casino between CT’s Mohegan & Pequot tribes

So where’s the difference?  Well, the CT casino has proposed more square footage and more table games.  Hmmm, doesn’t sound like a glorified slot parlor to me.

Now, we know that proposals change, right Mr. Sarno?  MGM’s Michael Mathis admitted that things change – hopefully to enhance the final product. CT’s casino may change from its original plan.  But don’t hold it against them. Remember the following MGM changes & proposal changes?

  1. Where is that hotel tower MGM initially promised?  Oh yeah, plans were changed.
  2. And jobs for the residents of Springfield? According to Chris Goudreau from ValleyAdvocate@Play.com, More than half of the unemployed population in Springfield — 2,150 people — could be automatically disqualified from getting a job at the MGM casino, slated to open in late-2018, under the current state gaming laws, according to MGM research performed to help change the Massachusetts gaming law.  I understand you are a “man of the people” and are working to help change the employment considerations set up by the state and the MGC.  That change has promise for the people of Springfield!

    An updated rendering released in September 2015 shows MGM Springfield’s scaled-back hotel plan, which no longer includes a 25-story glass tower. Pictured here is the new site of the hotel, at Main and Howard.
    MGM SPRINGFIELD / COURTESY THE SPRINGFIELD REPUBLICAN PHOTO DESK

     

  3. How about apartments for the area around the casino? MGM may put some of its market-rate apartments in the old Court Square Hotel on Elm Street, across from Springfield City Hall. Now its plans for the old school department building at 195 State Street are unclear.  MGM has been considering putting all its apartments at the old Court Square Hotel.  In case you don’t know, market rate housing is any apartment that has no rent restrictions. A landlord who owns market rate housing is free to attempt to rent the space at whatever price the local market may fetch, beneficial for landlords, as it is less complicated and they may be able to generate higher rent income as a result.  Definitely not affordable housing to help out Springfield’s residents.

So, changes do happen in the planning. They are to be expected – just ask MGM.  And it’s true!

So, Mr. Sarno, why are you so worried about CT’s third casino?  Do you have so little faith in MGM’s promise to raise the quality of life with this new model of “urban casino?” Concentrate on what matters most – the future of Springfield, MA.  The residents, the businesses, the unemployed – they all need your help.

MGM’s plans include lots to be excited about.  Fresh ideas entwined with MGM success and Springfield’s blue-collar fabric make for big potential.  MGM is not a casino company, it’s a “resort” company – and a very successful one at that. Look at what they are building for Springfield:

Armory Marketplace, rendering courtesy of MGM Springfield.

The “Amory Square” – Dining, Retail and Entertainment District has so much to offer the residents and visitors of Springfield:

  • 165,000 square feet of dining, retail and entertainment space
  • 15 shops and restaurants
  • Movie cinema – 50,000 sq-ft and 12 screens
  • Bowling alley – 20,000 sq-ft
  • Outdoor stage for free live music and entertainment
  • Location between Union and Howard streets
  • Multi-level parking garage with 5,000 parking spaces. (as long as it’s FREE parking?)

And a Hotel that offers:

  • 25-story hotel with 250 rooms
  • World-class spa
  • Pool – 10,000 square fee
  • Roof deck – 35,000 square fee
  • Outdoor garden
  • Meeting and banquet space – 40,000 square feet
  • The hotel will use the existing building facade at 73 State Street

This is what MGM does best.

Finally Mr. Sarno, I believe you should follow your own advice concerning MGM Springfield, “…..my focus should and will be on what we can direct and control – continuing to put a first class resort establishment in Springfield.”  (Your words, no one else’s!) Stay away from the name calling – it shows a lack of understanding and is beneath those officials in government we, and Springfield, put our trust in.

Enough said.

Binbin

MGM Resorts Logo

Connecticut’s 3rd Casino Approved – MGM Objections to Continue

It seems we have come full circle concerning MGM and their opposition to Connecticut’s casino expansion.

It was March of 2015 when the two tribes in CT asked for permission to build a casino off I-91 near the Massachusetts line to intercept patrons on their way to MGM Springfield, hoping it would be done and open by 2017.  MGM Springfield, a $950 million casino is a major threat to force more declining revenue of Connecticut’s gambling industry and impact the local economy by reducing employment opportunities.

MGM Springfield Downtown

Well it’s 2017, and CT is finally seeing it’s expansion come to life.  But, it will surely fizzle if MGM International has anything to do about it.

The two tribes that  were enemies and then competitors for centuries even when they were allowed to build two of the largest casinos in country, offering the only Las Vegas style resort gaming in the Northeast outside of Atlantic City, are now in it for the long-haul together.

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

A third casino in CT gets ready to move forward.  MMCT, the Mohegan Sun and Mashantucket Pequots tribes’ combined venture is soon to get the Governor’s backing, completing the state’s blessing for a new casino in East Windsor.

In two years of fighting, litigation, television commercials, community propaganda and interesting surveys to support their findings, MGM has thrown everything they could at the casino wall, hoping for anything to stick and sway the people of CT and their legislators.

The first attempt by MGM was a lawsuit challenging the exclusive right for the two tribes to jointly operate and build a competing casino. MGM insisted they could make money in CT (even though they pulled out of joint venture with Foxwoods) and that the casino bill violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. A federal judge in January of 2016 dismissed the company’s lawsuit to block the state of Connecticut’s 2015 tribal gaming act.

At the same time, MGM backed the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, in Kent, CT – officially recognized by the state but not the federal government – to sue the state of Connecticut’s bill, claiming they had a right to a casino.  But land claims, the lack of federal recognition and then the resurrection of the law suit all dismissed again recently seem enough to keep the Schaghticoke demands futile.

Seal of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs

Seal of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs

MGM then sought help from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, stating that a casino off tribal land would break the original agreement from 1993, saying that approving this bill would sever the pact for 25% of the slot revenue to the state. MMCT assured legislators that the proposed construction of a third casino would not jeopardize any gambling agreements reached between the state and the two tribes in 2016 & recently when the BIA agreed.

Officials from the two tribes provided legislators in 2016 with copies from a letter sent by the current Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the country’s Department of Interior stating that the existing gambling compact, under the terms of which Connecticut is provided with 25% of net revenue from slot machines in return for securing the two tribes with the exclusive rights to operate gambling venues within the state’s borders, would not be affected by the opening of a third casino.”

Two bills were eventually issued to the CT legislature earlier this year – one for the MMCT joint venture on the CT/MA border, and one outlining an equal bidding process for a casino in the southwest part of the state (where MGM could possily bid and build a casino). MGM continued to televise ads in CT under the moniker of MGMConecticut.org, trying to persuade CT’s residents of the need for equal bidding for a casino license, saying 71% of the state’s surveyed residents were in favor of an open bidding process.  All the local TV stations, all hours of the day were not enough to change the representatives vote.  Where is that 71% (of whatever sample size) when MGM needs them?

MGM has waged an all out war to try to save its interests across the border.  Whether or not is is to save MGM’s chances for a casino in CT, or just continuous stalling tactics while preparing for MGM Springfield to open,  MGM has had a five-prong attack:

  1. a legal fight in federal court,
  2. lobbying at the Connecticut State Capitol,
  3. bringing the fight to Congress
  4. instigating the Schaghticoke Tribe in Kent, CT to legally pursue it’s right to the casino pie – have proved fruitless in trying to block the construction of a third tribal casino thus far
  5. influence the people of CT to consider an open bidding process

Results?

  1. The federal court and the BIA has already thrown out MGM’s previous lawsuit
  2. Lobbying at the state capital didn’t succeed in bringing about the open bidding process
  3. The CT Senate, House, and soon Governor Malloy, approve the process for the MMCT casino in East Windsor.

I say MGM’s main purpose in all of this was to stall – because the urban casino they are building is a questionable success.  It will be great for MGM, but will it be good for Springfield?  Remember, MGM and CEO Jim Murren himself has said they are in the hotel and entertainment business, not the casino business.  How does Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission feel about their revenue being secondary in MGM’s plan?

Cinema in East Windsor for proposed casino.

Cinema in East Windsor for proposed casino.

MGM Springfield is in a much smaller city, and it will go up MMCT’s Mohegan Sun / Foxwoods casino in East Hartford and will continue to feel pressure from Plainridge Park Casino, the only open casino in Massachusetts. New York projects near western Mass. and Wynn’s Boston Harbor Casino/Resort will definitely tug at Springfield’s bottom line.  MGM said in 2016 that they didn’t believe in a ceiling on  gamblers discretionary funds and were not concerned with the possible saturation of casinos – do they still believe that?

Now, MGM is back to square one, leaning on the judicial branch to stop MMCT in East Windsor. I think I can still hear someone speaking in the wind from Springfield, “just stall, I don’t care how, just stall….”

And that, my friends is a complete circle.

Binbin

 

 

CT Sign

Connecticut’s Third Casino – Four Links to the Latest Spin

Oh, what a tangled web we weave….

The addition of a third casino in Connecticut continues to drag on, while MGM Springfield continues to rise ahead of schedule.  The spin on the latest events in this “battle at the border” between Massachusetts and the Nutmeg State continues to grind. The many talking heads involved are all after the same thing – control, or at least having a piece, of the New England Casino landscape.

To keep you up-to-date, NETimeGambling is providing this time line of the last two weeks’ events, with links to articles that explain further.

MAY 1st “Finance committee allows its third-casino bill to die”

Connecticut State Capitol

As reported in the Day by Brian Hallenbeck, a bill that was meant to call for commercial competitive bidding for a third casino was never sent to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, causing it to fail on the House floor.  The bill “encountered considerable opposition.” Contrary to that opposition, due to expected losses in state jobs and revenue, was the following article……

May 17th “MGM poll: 71% of likely voters want open bid for third casino”

It seems that MGM Resorts International, which is building MGM Springfield Casino/Resort 15 minutes north over the CT/MA border, knows what is best for Connecticut.  They have known all along, if you trace the history of this casino war – or so MGM feels they do. According to Eric Bedner of the Journal Inquirer in RI just a few days ago, MGM revealed that a statewide survey (commissioned in part by MGM Resorts International) shows that 71 percent of likely Connecticut voters support legislation that would establish a competitive bid process for a third casino.  WOW!  That’s just the opposite, and a very high percentage, that want competitive bidding!  But wasn’t there opposition to that? (read above article).  And the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes released a study by gaming expert Dr. Clyde Barrow that shows the competitive bid process could cost CT up to $85.6 million annually. “”There is no math that makes Connecticut’s first commercial gaming enterprise work for the state if it’s not operated by the two federally recognized tribes,” wrote Dr. Barrow. “For the State of Connecticut to merely break even in terms of state revenue, a competitively bid third casino would need to generate $1.063 billion in gross gaming revenue annually. There is not a single commercial casino in the United States generates that level of gaming revenue.”

In case you’re wondering why MGM is in favor of a casino being built, it is not due to a new found empathy towards Connecticut.  It is simply because MGM could build another casino in south-western CT, but not near the border where the joint venture of the Pequots & Mohegans would build.  Why? – MGM’s agreement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts includes not building a competing casino within a radius of 90 miles, which crosses over into Connecticut to far to be considered near Hartford and north.  But, days before this…….

May 16th – Schaghticokes Push Back As State Seeks To Dismiss Lawsuit

Schaghticokes were denied recognition by state.

Schaghticokes were denied recognition by state.

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation from Kent, CT in the north-western part of the state, continues to insist on its due piece of the casino pie. For and explanation previous history of the Schaghticokes & MGM, check out a previous NETimeGambling post entitled “Casino Industry Finds Strange Bedfellows In Connecticut & Maine.”  The difficulty for the tribe from Kent is that they are still not federally recognized.

May 18th – Tribes get BIA letter helpful to their bid for a third casino

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

The CT Mirror and  have been on top of the third casino situation since its inception.  Recently, they reported  the Bureau of Indian Affairs confirmed that “A commercial casino operated by Connecticut’s two federally recognized tribes would not jeopardize their revenue-sharing deal with the state,” contrary to other reports surfacing, influenced by MGM.  It had been rumored, around the time of both casino bills being published, that the third casino by MMCT (the joint venture of Pequots & Mohegans)  would “invalidate a deal in which the tribes were granted exclusive rights to casino gambling in Connecticut in return for a 25 percent share of gross slots revenues.” This recent article by The Mirror explains the most recent opinion handed down by the BIA.

After reading these posts and articles, what do you think is going to happen?  Many questions remain.  But who is most concerned about Connecticut’s third casino?

  • How worried is Connecticut in losing jobs, revenue, and diminishing the huge 1-2 gaming punch that Foxwoods and the Sun have brought to New England and the US?
  • How worried is Massachusetts in the fruition of success that MGM Springfield has promised?
  • How worried is MGM International concerning their latest project in Springfield – the invention of the “urban casino/resort?”

Only time will tell.  That’s all for now.

Binbin