New England Casino News Review

BROCKTON CASINO STILL ALIVE?

Brockton Casino Driveway

Brockton Casino, no longer an option.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission received a letter on Wednesday from the Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming asking for another chance to bring a $677 million casino to Brockton. Rush Street and Mass Gaming and Entertainment are now seeking reconsideration for the project more than two years after it was rejected in a 4-1 vote by the state gaming commission in April 2016.  Rush Street and Mass Gaming began the letter by referring to a notice posted online in July 2016 by the state gaming commission, pledging to hold a public discussion “at a time deemed appropriate” about the short- and long-term interests of southeastern Massachusetts. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe originally planned to open a destination casino in Taunton in 2017, but construction was derailed by a federal lawsuit.

Meanwhile, there is increasing support for the Mashpee casino in Taunton. Read the following article for more details:   “Support grows for legislation for Mashpee tribe”

MGM SPRINGFIELD GETS “LAST CALL” EXTENSION

Paul Tuthill, from WAMC Northwest Public Readio reported “The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted 4-1 Thursday to approve, with some conditions attached, an alcoholic beverage license for MGM Springfield that will allow drinks to be served on the casino floor until 4 a.m. – two hours later than the time all other bars in the state are required to close……but only if they are actively gaming would they be able to consume (alcohol) after that 2 a.m. time frame.” MGM Springfield Vice President & General Counsel Seth Stratton said the proposal before the gaming commission is to have extended hours for alcohol service only on the casino floor, saying “If you are a gaming customer and would like to have a cocktail as you continue to game up until 4 a.m. we will offer that service, but if you want to hang out at a bar, our bars close at 2 a.m. just like any other bars in the community.” Brian Hallenbeck , The Day staff writer, reported Foxwoods wants later ‘last call’ to keep up with Mass. casino.  Click on the link to learn more about CT’s casino’s reaction.

IT’S GAME ON AT MOHEGAN SUN

Mohegan Sun announced that it plans to open Game On, a 23,000-square-foot interactive arcade, sports bar and restaurant, this winter inside its new convention center. Game On will feature a luxury bowling alley, ping pong tables, billiards, darts and arcade games in addition to multiple high-definition screens and a 65-foot bar. It will be located on a lower level of the new Earth Expo & Convention Center, which is hosted Barrett-Jackson’s Northeast Auction of collector cars in June. The new venue will accommodate parties and private events.

TOPGOLF IS COMING TO NEW ENGLAND

In the fall, look to TopGolf invading New England’s casinos. Looking for your next party idea or a place to better enhance your golfing skills? Top Golf is a fun experience for all ages that offers a comfy lounge to hangout while you enjoy fantastic food and drinks, all while enhancing your golfing skills. MGM Springfield will be the first when it opens in August. Not to be outdone, Foxwoods jumped into the ring, or should I say the course, possibly introducing it before MGM Springfield this summer. Foxwoods’ Topgolf Swing Suite will offer multiple golf simulator bays, throwback arcade games, a DJ booth, lounge seating and a full-service craft bar with an impressive food and drink menu.

RHODE ISLAND IS FIRST TO LEGALIZE SPORTS BETTING IN NEW ENGLAND

Governor Gina Raymond signed the bill into law a bill allowing legal sports wagering in the state. The Rhode Island General Assembly approved the $9.559-billion budget bill which includes legalized sports wagering. The bill established legal sports wagering at Twin River Casino and “reflects an agreement reached with IGT, the operator of the state’s electronic lottery systems which also won the contract for operating sports wagering in the state.” Rhode Island will retain 51% of sports betting revenue, IGT will get 32%, and the Twin River Lincoln facility and Tiverton facility will get 17%.

EAST WINDSOR APPROVES MMCT ZONING PERMIT FOR CASINO

MMCT Venture in East Windsor, CT, Courtesy WFSB

MMCT Venture, the joint company of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes, has proposed opening a $300 million 188,000 square foot gaming and entertainment facility in spring 2020. It would include around 1,800 slot machines, 50 table games and 10 poker tables. This is just one of many hoops the Mohegan & Mashantuckets had to go through to build a casino that is said to be able to keep jobs and gambling revenue from flying up to MGM Springfield.  For renderings and the story, click on East Windsor Casino Takes Shape In New Renderings

FINALLY, A TRAGEDY AT FOXWOODS

The president and CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino, Felix Rappaport, passed away unexpectedly due to heart disease, according to the state medical examiner’s office.  For more information and an article highlighting his accomplishments and respect in the industry, click on Visionary Felix Rappaport Was a Star Wherever He Went.

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Wynn & MGM Rumors Abound in Massachusetts

Matt Maddox (left & Steve Wynn (right) courtesy of CNBC

Wynn Resorts new CEO Matt Maddox reported on CNBC Wednesday that “Boston’s not up for sale. What Boston represents for us is a good growth opportunity……I like that market. I found that land. I pursued that deal. I entered the agreement with the host community five years ago. I liked that market then, I like that market now.”

Rumors have been spreading daily over the two new casinos in Massachusetts.  It all started when Steve Wynn, then CEO of Wynn Resorts, Wynn, was accused of demanding sexual favors from female employees over the last three decades. Since these allegations became public, and his resignation as Wynn Resorts chairman and CEO on Feb. 6, a firestorm of speculation has whirled around Everett, MA.,  spreading to Springfield, MA and even Connecticut’s tribal casinos.

MGM BOSTON HARBOR?

MassLive reported that “gaming officials are exploring the sale of Wynn Boston Harbor, with MGM Resorts International as a top candidate to purchase the project.”  MGM Resorts International has been urged on by John DeCree of Union Gaming stating “purchasing Wynn Boston Harbor could result in a double-digit increase in return on investment for MGM than their casino project in Springfield.”  But state gaming regulations only allow a casino operator to hold more than one gaming license in Massachusetts.  Selling their MGM Springfield project would then be necessary to purchase the Wynn property in Everett.

MORE RUMORS

Meanwhile, back in Springfield, MGM this week has reported a new opening date – earlier than the previously announced late September.  MGM Springfield is now prepared to open (mark your calendars!) August 24th, 2018.  This report is not a rumor, but will the casino in Springfield be owned by MGM by that time?

With a series of “what-ifs” and “thens,” check out this possible 5+ step scenario:

  • 1. MGM purchases Wynn Boston Harbor, becoming MGM Boston Harbor
  • 2. MGM sells Springfield casino.
  • 3A. Mohegan Sun buys Springfield, becoming Mohegan Sun Springfield (the Mohegan tribe lost out to Wynn for the Boston license with their proposal in Revere. or
  • 3B. MMCT Joint venture between the Pequot & Mohegan tribes in CT change it’s prospective 3rd CT casino in South Windsor to Springfield, MA.
  • 3C. The prospective 3rd CT casino in South Windsor continues as a joint venture between the Pequot & Mohegan tribes in CT
  • 4. The prospective 3rd CT casino in South Windsor is not built, leaving Foxwoods out of the mix, until….
  • 5. Connecticut opens bidding for Bridgeport Casino, as Foxwoods & MGM become prime suitors to battle it out for the NYC market.

It seems like fun to make these rumored projections, much like a mock draft on Draft Day.  But it isn’t fun and games for the city of Springfield. MA. Casino opponents in Springfield always warned that “something like this could happen with MGM’s track record.”

MGM Springfield

Remember when this beautiful tower was going to enhance the Springfield skyline?

AND WHAT ABOUT SPRINGFIELD?

According to MassLive, “Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said Friday he has been assured by the top executives of MGM Resorts International and MGM Springfield that it remains committed to building a first-class resort casino in the city, despite unconfirmed reports that the company is in discussions to purchase the under-construction Wynn Resorts casino in Everett.” Residents have made it known that they need MGM for its economic and jobs promises. Some note that MGM has already changed its plans when they changed the 30-story hotel tower and decreased the casino floor.

Other residents have noted that businesses have been reluctant to break ground in Springfield to accompany the opening of MGM Springfield.

MGM has stated, “We do not comment on rumors or speculations around transactions. We remain fully committed to the opening and success of MGM Springfield.”  But it is the Boston market that will pay the most dividends.  Springfield has always been, to some, a questionably lucrative project.

CONCLUSION

Many events would have to happen in order for Wynn Boston Harbor to become MGM Boston Harbor. The summer will prove to be interesting, as state legislatures business is coming to a halt soon in both states, putting a hold on possibilities.  Besides the Wynn Boston Harbor mess and the MMCT situation in CT, sports-betting is also on the table in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

For Springfield’s sake, I hope the next throw of the dice isn’t “snake-eyes!”

Binbin

Dr. Clyde Barrow & the Proposed Bridgeport Casino

Attorney General Jepson

Attorney General George Jepsen has advised Connecticut legislators to test the market for opening Connecticut to commercial casinos. He seems to think it wouldn’t jeopardize $260 million in slots revenue the state expects to collect this year under the exclusive deal with the tribal owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun.

But this is a questionable tactic in my mind, and so does Clyde Barrow.

Who is Clyde Barrow?

Dr. Clyde Barrow is considered a gaming industry specialist. In a comprehensive study, he stated that a new Connecticut casino (referring to the joint venture between the Mohegans & Pequots) would recapture 46 percent of the 9,300 jobs and $337 million in revenue that would otherwise be lost to out-of-state competition, especially that from Massachusetts.

Casino Consultant, Clyde Barrow

Casino Consultant, Clyde Barrow

Dr. Barrow goes on to say recently, “Precedent has already been set. According to Barrow, “in October of 2010, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council “stopped sharing revenue from the casino along New York’s northern border with the state, claiming the exclusivity provisions of its gambling compact has been violated…..In other words: if the State of Connecticut grants a commercial gaming license to any operator other than the State’s two Indian tribes under an open competitive bid process, then the tribe’s current combined revenue sharing payments of $267 million annually could cease immediately (Connecticut Division of Special Revenue 2017).”

Connecticut’s Tribal Tax Revenue

Foxwoods Resort Casino has operated a Class III casino under a compact with the State of Connecticut since February 15, 1992 and Mohegan Sun Casino has operated a Class III casino under a compact with the State of Connecticut since October 12, 1996. Connecticut’s two tribes have a combined Gross Gaming Revenue that is the 4th largest in the United States.  The top three are California (where 62 of the 109 California tribes own 69 casinos), Florida (2 tribes operate and own 8 casinos) and Washington state (32 tribal casinos owned by 23 tribes). Remember, only two tribes with only two casinos in the third smallest US state.

But all that revenue from slots at both tribal casinos would be lost with a competitive process for the 4th casino in Bridgeport.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed MGM Bridgeport casino.(Image: MGM Resorts International)

As reported by Brian Hallenbeck, the Day staff writer, Dr. Barrow said “Assuming the third Connecticut casino gets built — and few consider that a slam dunk — a fourth, competitively bid casino would have to generate nearly $1.1 billion in annual gross gaming revenues to offset what the state would lose when the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes stop sharing their casinos’ slot-machine revenues, a new report concludes. And the probability of a Bridgeport casino pulling in that kind of cash “is almost zero [because] not a single commercial casino in the United States currently generates that level of gross gaming revenue,,”

 

Let’s look at a few other considerations:

  1. The traffic from New York of prospective gamblers will cause studies and improvements in the dangerous, time consuming highway that is I-95. Improved infrastructure should be paid for by any perspective Bridgeport Casino project, or that will cut into Connecticut’s tax revenue, diminishing the already smaller revenue expected without the tribal tax revenue.

    I-95 traffic congestion on SW CT.

  2. Potential developments in New York, where a constitutional moratorium on New York City casinos expires in December 2022, also threaten the success of a Bridgeport casino, Barrow contends. “There is nothing to prevent the State of New York from locating a new casino even closer to the Connecticut border, where it could intercept casino traffic from New York City and capture traffic from Fairfield County. The anticipated traffic from New York City will never materialize for a Bridgeport casino because New York can easily and quickly pre-empt a new competitive threat from Connecticut by building an even more lavish casino that is more convenient to New York City customers.”
  3. If newly built New York Casinos and NYC close Empire and Resorts World Casinos are already cutting into the tribal revenue, what kind of a terrible impact would a border war with New York AND Massachusetts bring without the CT tribal revenue when the exclusive pact with the tribes is broken.

I believe Dr. Barrow’s analysis.  But maybe MGM International also believes he’s right.  I guess that’s how stalling tactics, and MGM is real good at not showing its hand. Meanwhile, MGM Springfield continues – full speed ahead, while Connecticut is still waiting for in first gear.

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MGM Winning the Battle in CT by Outspending the Rest

Hold The Demolition!

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations were set to begin work on dismantling the abandoned Showcase Cinamas in East Windsor where the joint venture of MMCT were to build a casino. Let’s face it, it was intended to be a quick reaction to save jobs and revenue going over the border to Springfield .

MGM Resorts International continues to throw any resistance they can, raising its own bet for Connecticut’s lucrative gambling dollars. In case you missed it, in the last few years MGM has:

  • flooded the towns considered for the MMCT third casino venture with propaganda to promote disinterest
  • stirred the pot by inciting other CT tribes to “get their piece of the pie,”
  • made CT legislators consider other processes for gaming in the Nutmeg State
  • studied and suggested Bridgeport as the best place for a new casino (away from Springfield)

    Bridgeport, CT – MGM casino quest

  • continues litigation with the state of CT concerning the casino addition
  • slowed the third casino process to a crawl, getting ahead with their project in Springfield while
  • continuing to move forward steadily in building MGM Springfield
  • and even has CT politicians & residents alike thinking that no additional casino is the best scenario

With an offer for a Bridgeport casino and fierce opposition to the East Windsor site within 17 miles of the $900 million MGM casino nearing completion in Springfield, Mass., there is as much as $20 million a month in Connecticut gambling revenue at stake.

Ken Dixon of the CT Post reported the following actions as MGM raised the ante last year:

  • Spending more than $3.8 million in TV and radio ads and lobbying state agencies and lawmakers, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen, a Hearst Connecticut Media review of public records in the Office of State Ethics has found. (The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegans’ joint venture spent less than $1.2 million.)
  • MGM hired a Washington lobbyist to focus on the Department of the Interior and the White House, paying Ballard Partners $270,000.
  • Lobbying total comparisons: MGM Resorts International $3.8 million, Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods $77,850, MMCT Venture, (East Windsor tribal casino) $1.2 million, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Kent $158,194 (when MGM backed an effort to get the tribe recognized and allowed a competing casino)
  • MGM Resorts International’s growing investment in Connecticut lobbying – 2015 — $172,937  2016 — $1,224,440, 2017 — $3.8 million

“It’s par for the course,” said Andrew Doba, spokesman for the two tribes. “MGM has shown, month after month, year after year, that they are willing to spend ungodly amounts of money to prevent Connecticut from taking the logical and necessary steps to protecting jobs and revenue.”

Connecticut State Capitol

Recently, Kenneth Gosselin if the Hartford Courant reported the introduction of a bill that would open casino expansion in Connecticut to competitive bidding calls for scrapping plans for a casino in East Windsor. The bill requires that proposals include a workforce of at least 2,000 and an agreement to give the state at least 25 percent of gross gaming revenues from all games, plus at least 10 percent from slot machines. The pact with CT’s two tribal casinos now in action insures 25% of all slot revenue.

What would the New bill entail?

  1. Bids are due by Jan. 1.
  2. The proposals also must show the bidders are able to pay a one-time $50 million licensing fee to the state.
  3. The legislature’s public safety and security committee, which oversees gaming, will hold a public hearing on the bill on March 8.

The legislative committee will take a broader look at the future of gaming in the state, including sports betting, in an informational forum.

Last February I wrote that there were three future possibilities in Connecticut concerning casino expansion:

“At this time, here are the possibilities:

  1. No Casino – yes, that’s right.  In a quick Twitter poll on our NETimeGambling Twitter site, 60% responded to no casino, 20% for Bridgeport, and 20% for the Hartford area.
  2. MMCT gets their casino, the mess continues, but to no avail.
  3. All Hell Breaks Lose! – the process is revisited, commercial casinos apply for two licenses, and I’ll be writing about it well into 2020.”

Well, here we are a year later. I guess not much has changed, except for one thing – MGM is winning the battle in CT.  Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods should start thinking about other possibilities to compete for the gambler’s dollar.

 

 

CT’s Third Casino, An Underwhelming Reality?

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

Last week, MMCT, the joint venture between Connecticut’s Mohegan and Pequot tribes, showed a slight blueprint of what the satellite casino planned for East Windsor, a blueprint that was underwhelming. The news was that it would include 2,000 slot machines, up to 150 tables, and a five-story, 1,800-parking space garage.

Steve Ruddock, a veteran of the gambling industry and longtime contributor to numerous publications including DFS Report, USPoker.com, and PlayMa.com.  As a resident of Massachusetts and a scholar of the gambling industry, Steve has a special perspective on the  gambling expansion in Connecticut.

Drawings were submitted to the town and are little more than a rough sketch a first glimpse at the thinking behind the $300 million development.  Steve’s analysis was quite good and can be read at “IT APPEARS EAST WINDSOR CASINO’S BIGGEST SELLING POINT IS A PARKING GARAGE”

Blueprint for MMCT East Windsor Casino.

Steve and I exchanged opinions and I believe I’m now leaning his way. He called it a “slot box.”  I hesitated when I read his opinion and asked him what constitutes a “slot box.”  Steve’s definition was “A casino without a lot of amenities. Somewhere you go to gamble and do little else.”  I must admit, after seeing his explanation, I do agree.  This third casino is not going to come close in comparison to MGM Springfield.  As presented, it IS a “slots box.”

It made me wonder what other slot boxes this size and this amount of table games and slots were in Las Vegas or elsewhere.

Of course there is Plainridge Park Casino and Raceway in Plainville, Massachusetts.  But that was the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s plan all along.

Elsewhere in New England there is Oxford and Twin River casinos in Maine and Rhode Island respectively, but both have completed, or in the process of completing a hotel.

NYC has its Empire City and Resorts World, both large slot joints, with no hotel. But these two casinos with few amenities are highly successful. East Windsor is a far cry from New York City concerning the number of available gamblers, so the comparison of how successful a slot parlor could be to keep revenue and jobs in Connecticut is questionable.

Resorts World, Queens, NY.

In Vegas, with that definition would you consider Casino Royale on the Strip, Dotty’s chain of slot joints, (much smaller, no hotel), and some of Downtown Vegas Casinos, like El Cortez and the Plaza, even though they have hotels.

It’s too bad that a hotel isn’t in the mix for East Windsor, never mind a good restaurant like Stack’s (Plainridge Park) or the many high end eateries at both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.  Or, how about some meeting space to add to the hotel to add to convention crowds from Hartford. In other words, there needs to be more incentive besides program loyalty to keep Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun patrons from crossing over the Massachusetts border.

Bottom line is, why not build a world class casino, smaller scale, like those in SouthEastern CT? Something that would be able to compete with MGM Springfield. Something that costs more than $900,000!

I’m not in favor of open bidding in Bridgeport, or anywhere else in CT. The future ramifications would open up a can of worms that would not fix CT’s financial woes. But I do think that East Windsor and the people of CT deserve better from MMCT.

Thanks to Steve Ruddock for inspiring this post.

Binbin

 

 

 

Two Years Ago

Two years ago, I posted the following article about the changes between 2013 & February, 2016.  it’s interesting to see what had happened in that time period, what was expected to happen between then and now, and actually where we stand two years later. So, here is the actual article, with updates as we go. Remember this was originally written in 2016. Enjoy…..


(February 8th 2016) Let’s go back in time first…..

Two years ago in New England.

Two years ago in New England.

Two years ago, (2014) it was all about Wynn Everett never happening, Mohegan Sun’s rejection in Palmer or Revere, and MGM Springfield causing concern over traffic, historic buildings, yadda, yadda, yadda…

Last year, (2015) MGM Springfield & Wynn Everett are given casino licenses, but will open two years later. Connecticut looks at the possibility for a third casino, law suits between MGM & CT, and Wynn & Boston’s Mayor Walsh erupt, Rhode Island’s Twin River buys Newport Grand and talks of moving it to Tiverton, while Massachusetts opens its first Casino in Plainville, Mass. only to find disappointment because of declining revenue after its opening. (As we now realize, Plainridge Park has had a series of months with growing revenue. Wynn & Walsh made nice, nice, Twin River Management is progressing through those plans in 2018.)

imagesIt’s 2016.  Wynn & MGM have begun breaking ground, fewer lawsuits remain, and Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville continues to perform to less than expected (and highly bloated) results.  CT is trying to find a location for its third casino, and everything seems to be moving forward to the wonderfully saturated and competitive casino market we know as New England.

But what would the casino industry be like without some turmoil?  So, here’s the next chapter of  “As The New England Casino Industry Turns.”  Recently:

IN MASSACHUSETTS

  • The Bureau of Indian Affairs officially designated Mashpee Wampanoag lands as a reservation on Friday. In September, the U.S. Department of Interior agreed to take 321 acres of tribe-owned land into trust on its behalf.
    Rendition Wampanoag Casino in Taunton

    Wampanoag Casino in Taunton

    But not so fast, a group of Taunton property owners filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday challenging the designation of neighboring land as a Native American reservation, a legal move meant to block a $500 million casino planned for the location,  describing the tribe’s plans for a massive casino and hotel complex as “grossly out-of-character” for a quiet residential area. Sound familiar?  (i.e., Palmer MA, Tiverton RI) (First Light continues to be stuck in “Legislative Limbo.”)

  • Then there’s Brockton – you remember that city, don’t you?  They’re the ones patiently waiting to find out what Massachusetts and the Mass.Gaming Commission are going to do with the Mashpee proposal in Taunton.  th (11)The Brockton casino proposal is the only remaining commercial license applicant pursuing a license provided to the southeastern region by the state’s gaming law. If both eventually appear years in the future, it’s said they will be able to “co-exist,” meaning not prosper, not financially aid the state of Massachusetts, and play second fiddle to MGM & Wynn forever.  The new lawsuit mentioned above by Taunton could keep the decision in limbo for years.  Rush Street Gaming, developer of Brockton’s Casino proposal, won’t stick around that long. (The MGC decided not to award any SE gaming license, with Brockton being the last casino standing, but not getting the award.)

IN CONNECTICUT

thA third casino site for a jointly run Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun Casino to compete with MGM Springfield Resort being built across the line in MA, will be decided on later than expected.  Now remember, MGM Resorts filed a lawsuit against the state of Connecticut in 2015 alleging that the state had not followed fair policy by giving casino establishments an equal right to bid for a third casino in Connecticut, suggesting partiality to CT’s two “casino” tribes.  Recently, The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, ignored by CT and feds, established a business entity with the aim of being allowed to establish a commercial casino within the borders of CT and they remain dedicated to the idea of operating the third CT gambling faculty. Richard Blumenthal, the state’s congressional delegation, have opposed new rules by the BIA that would have made winning federal recognition easier for tribes like the Schaghticokes.  In one week, the tribe from Kent, CT was approved and denied, with Connecticut saying their made a “boo-boo.”   Maybe MGM Springfield has a point with their lawsuit. (The whole thing was eventually dismissed, leading this blogger to wonder if there is still a political predjudice towards tribal peoples. Ironic that it would be alive and well in New England, you know – Pilgrims, first contact, etc…)

IN RHODE ISLAND

The Battlefield for Casino Supremacy in Rhode Island & Southeast Mass

The Battlefield for Casino Supremacy in Rhode Island & Southeast Mass

Twin River Casino, owner of Newport Grand Casino, would ask voters statewide and in Tiverton to decide the fate of the new casino with referendums on the November 2016 ballot. The question would need to pass both statewide and in Tiverton for the casino to be approved.  In a Tiverton town meeting, townspeople sounded genuinely split on the issue as they talked about the practicalities and the morality of hosting a gambling venue. (Tiverton and Twin River Casino’s new Hotel is all happening – just r-e-a-l-l-y sloooowwwwwwwly)

IN MAINE

York County, Maine om the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed

York County, Maine on the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed

Hey, is Maine still looking to add a third casino – closer to the Massachusetts border?  According to a detailed report in the Bangor Daily News, petition circulators were hired in the state of Maine to gather signatures to try and bring another casino to the state.

Soon after the signature campaign started that circulators began to allege issues that they were hired by the company Harness Racing Jobs Fairnessto gather signatures, promised as much as $10 per signature! The unorthodox campaign to give a Las Vegas gambling developer the sole right to build a York County casino submitted its signatures Monday to put the proposal to Maine voters in November.  NETG prediction – referendum? sure…..casino?  Nah. (And we were right – twice and no Maine casino in York county.)

So, unless you were gone for the month of January and February (2016), that’s the news to peak your interest. Same issues, just different players.

Binbin

Wynn, MGM, Bridgeport & MMCT – Questions Abound

Over the last few days, news reports have made my mind spin.  While so many headlines have come from different angles, they all seem related to NETimeGambling interests.  Our coverage of New England Casinos news this week has noticeably been missing, but not on purpose. You see, we could report all the news that you have read about already, but it’s too early for comprehensive coverage. The past week’s headlines could actually turn the entire southern New England gambling landscape upside down. Covering this takes careful perspective and consideration.

However, it hasn’t stopped me from thinking about all of it – past, present, and future. Random thoughts running rampant.  Now, I need to share before my head bursts.

Billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn steps down as chairman and CEO of Wynn resorts, amidst allegations of sexual misconduct.

Steve Wynn with his rendition of Wynn Boston Harbor

It’s sad to think that these allegations go back so many years. The “good old boys” network of covering for each other in entertainment and political fields is now being uncovered in the casino industry.

  • Will it stop the casino in Boston Harbor from still built and becoming the jewel of New England’s casino landscape?  Emphatically “No!”
  • Will the Massachusetts Gaming Commission take the charge and investigate the lies Steve-o made to Cosby and the MGC?  If they have any integrity they will – something that was questionable in the way the license was handled in the first place.
  • By the way, the state Gaming Commission said the omission of mentioning the $7.5 million settlement paid to a woman by Wynn in 2005 in the gaming license application is “critical” to the commission’s review and decision whether or not to approve. How should Mohegan Sun feel about such an unfair process of choosing Wynn over their Revere casino application.

Future Of Proposed East Windsor Casino In Doubt

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

The fed’s delay, influenced by MGM adding itself to the MMCT lawsuit defense, has seemingly turned the tables on the Pequot and Mohegan joint casino in East Windsor. The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs had 45 days to approve or deny the changes to Connecticut’s gaming compact with the tribes. But, recently, the Trump administration advanced an interesting argument that may even cause the extinction of the East Windsor Casino project even as demolition is scheduled for the casino site. In a motion filed on Monday, government attorneys called for the removal of the Pequots from the case. They contend the tribe’s new casino deal is not subject to “mandatory deadlines — or any deadlines at all” at the federal level, all of which proves true and stops the tribe of Foxwoods fame to be deleted from the MMCT suit.

  • My first response was MGM will do anything to protect its MGMSpringfield project.  It shows me that rumors of questionable success and an unsure feeling about MGM does exist. If you were sure the product you were peddling was so great, why try to kill off all competition?
  • How could Foxwoods not see this coming? Not realizing this snafu was serious enough to put the 3rd casino project in jeopardy could start tribal hostilities between the two tribes once again – dating back to 1637 when the Mohegan’s were originally part of the Pequot tribe, but gradually became independent and allied with English colonists in the Pequot War.

Revoke East Windsor license and set up competition in Bridgeport?

Supporters of a casino in Bridgeport rolled out a bill this week, to revoke the East Windsor license granted last year and replace it with a competition for proposals for a single casino costing at least $500 million. The bill calls for bids by Jan. 1, which would have to include a deal with a city or town, complete with a referendum, anyplace in Connecticut.

Distance from Bridgeport to Resorts World, less than 60 miles away.

  • Why Bridgeport?  Well, before the tribal pacts were made Mohegan and Pequot Tribes, Wynn and Trump saw Bridgeport as a perfect site with proximity to the Big Apple. But, then Governor Weicker made the agreement with the tribes for sole gambling rights. Trump, Wynn, and Bridgeport probably still haven’t forgiven the state of CT.
  • Why Bridgeport?  Because MGM, who has found a new city for financial promises, can’t build a casino anywhere in CT that is within a 90 mile radius of Springfield, according to their licensing agreement.
  • Why Bridgeport? It will open up a bidding war for the first commercial casino in the Nutmeg State, with developers required to meet specific requirements, including: A minimum of 2,000 people to be directly employed at the facility, $500 million minimum total investment for Commercial Casino Gaming Facility, $50 million nonrefundable license fee due before construction, 25% of the annual gross gaming revenue on both Slots and Tables, and additional 10 percent of the annual gross gaming revenue from the operation of video slot machine games to fund Educational Cost Sharing grants for distribution to municipalities.
  • Guess what – NETG suggested rebidding 2 years ago.  Only it was to add more money to the state coffers like Massachusetts did – all those application fees add up!  Then, turn around and do what you want anyway. Ask Rush Gaming and CET Gaming how The MGC choices stack up in their eyes.

MGM is quite the instigator!

Casino.org says, “Although Connecticut’s two tribal operators believe it’s part of a very elaborate bluff, an artist’s rendering of the proposed MGM Bridgeport casino, which the gaming operator says will bring 2,000 permanent jobs and a tax revenue stream of $316 million per year, has been created and presented to the state’s power brokers. (Image: MGM Resorts International)

It all began with CT’s reaction to MGM Springfield. MGM was not happy that Connecticut would acquiesce to their competition. Lobbyists infiltrated the MMCT process in choosing a site, and continued to lobby against it when East Windsor was chosen. Then another tactic – trying to get the Schaghticokes tribe federal and state recognition. That didn’t happen, so it was on to  Bridgeport.  I guess MGM is seen as the Golden Ticket to needy groups and cities.

MGM sure has a lot of money to stop CT’s “slot-box.”

Yep, that’s what they called it, even though it will be close in size, casino area, and gambling offered – with a full casino, unlike Plainridge Park in Plainville Massachusetts. MGM could stand for “Money Gone Mad” if referring to expenditures to battle the MMCT venture. Check this out:

  • MGM spent more than $3.8 million in TV and radio ads and lobbying state agencies and lawmakers, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen. The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegans’ joint venture spent less than $1.2 million.
  • MGM hired a Washington lobbyist to focus on the Department of the Interior and the White House, paying Ballard Partners $270,000.
  • Lobbying totals: Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods $77,850; MGM Resorts International $3.8 million; MMCT Venture, (East Windsor tribal casino) $1.2 million; Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority $178,702; Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Kent $158,194
  • MGM Resorts International’s growing investment in Connecticut lobbying; 2015 — $172,937; 2016 — $1,224,440; 2017 — $3.8 million  *Source: Office of State Ethics

What will Southern New England’s gaming look like by 2020?

Your guess is as good as mine. Questions abound:

  • Could we see one or two commercial casinos rise up in Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford?
  • How many will be operated by MGM?
  • Will Caesars Entertainment make an appearance in CT?
  • Will CT’s tribes extend to Bridgeport? East Windsor?

Too many questions.  Now my head really hurts.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see…………we all will.

Binbin

 

 

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

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

 

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 –>

NETG 10 Wishes For NewEngland Casinos

2018 New England Casino Wish List

It’s 2018, and it’s time to continue our annual tradition at NETimeGambling.com (NETG) – a beginning of the year wish list. So here are Ten Wishes for New England’s casinos in the 2018.

Wish #1 – Continued financial stability and growth for CT’s tribal casinos. Wish #1A – MMCT gets past a prejudiced government to be given a chance to save its gaming interests in the Nutmeg State.

Proposed MMCT joint casino – CT’s Mohegan & Pequot tribes

Wish #2 – Expansions at Oxford Casino in Oxford, Maine help continued growth in a state that has decided it doesn’t want more than 2 Casinos.  Wish #2A – The crossing in front of Oxford Casino, Rte 26, is made safe so no one else loses their life crossing from Hampton Inn to the casino.

Wish #3 – Twin River Casino’s new hotel is finished soon to make it a destination resort.

Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge Park Casino, Plainville, MA

Wish #4 – Plainridge Park Casino continues to build a loyal base before the rest of the Massachusetts casino expansion gets started in Springfield and Boston.

Wish #5 – Speaking of Springfield, a seemless and successful opening for MGM Springfield for the residents of the city. We hope that MGM’s promises for Springfield come true.

Armory Marketplace, part of MGM Springfield

Wish #6 – Gamblers will become more knowledgeable and picky concerning pay tables, odds, and EV. Wish #6A – Casinos bring back 3/2 blackjack, craps “firebet,” single zero roulette, full pay VP, etc…..

Wish #7 – the Connecticut Sun, of the WNBA, who call Mohegan Sun their home, win their first WNBA championship.  Wish #7A – the new Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA play the Sun in Sin City to give another reason to visit.

Wynn Boston Harbor

Wynn Boston Harbor opening in 2019

Wish #8 – Wynn Boston Harbor is finished earlier than expected and becomes the jewel of New England’s casinos as expected by the end of 2018.

Wish #9 – Newport Grand’s last year in business isn’t a sad one.  Wish #9A – Those employed by Newport Grand find jobs elsewhere to their liking after its closure.

Wish #10 – NETimeGambling continues to grow with all our old and new friends.  Wish #10A – NETG continues being part of the TravelZork Team.  Thanks Michael.

Finally, I wish you all have more jackpots, Royal flushes, and life changing table game bonuses. May 2018 be a great gambling year.

Binbin

NETimeGambling Looks Back & Forward from 2014

“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” ~Ellen Glasgow

Two years ago in New England.

Four years ago in New England.

A Look Back to 2014

I was looking back at old NETimeGambling posts from 2014 & 2015. So many changes have take place in New England’s Casino Industry.  It’s hard to remember some of the proposals that failed compared to those that have materialized. A few years ago, New England was simply an area with a few casinos. Let me remind you what was happening back then:

“Connecticut Casinos are on the verge of losses beyond recovery. (Instead, by 2017, both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have made many additions and changes, and have diversified their interests into other revenue generating areas, making their relevancy in New England stronger and ready for the New England’s casino expansion.)

”Massachusetts is still in a mess concerning it’s third full casino license in the Southeastern area.” (Eventually, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission passed the New Bedford waterfront and chose Rush Gaming’s proposal in Brockton – but when the Wampanoag tribal casino looked to generate more for the state, the southeast region license was denied to Brockton.  At this time, “First Light Resort of the Wampanoag tribe is stuck in a lawsuit with the townspeople of Taunton.)

Remember when there were two other bidders besides Penn National Gaming for the Slots-only casino? Raynham Park, a former dog-racing track; and Cordish Bros., which had proposed building a slots parlor in Leominster were the other two.

Mohegan Sun was denied not one proposal, but two – in Palmer to MGM Springfield, and Revere’s Suffolk Downs to Steve Wynn’s casino in Everett.

By the way, Mohegan Sun was Suffolk Down’s second suitor. Caesars Entertainment had to withdraw from a connection with Suffolk Downs in 2013 due to alleged ties to Russian organized crime.

A Look Forward From 2015

Southeastern New England’s expansion possibilities in 2015

In 2015, I suggested that the peak number of prospective casinos in New England (prospective, but not probable) totaled at 20! Yes I know, as Tevye from “Fiddeler on the Roof said, “crazy, no!”

Here’s what I posted in 2015. These were my insane expansion numbers of casinos in New England: (for laughs and giggles)

CONNECTICUT – 2 tribal resorts, and 3 tribal “satellite” casinos = Total of 5
RHODE ISLAND – 2 casinos, both under the name of Twin River Casino, Hotel & Resort = Total of 2
MASSACHUSETTS – 3 casino resorts, 1 slots-only parlor, 1 tribal (Wampanoags) = total of 5
NEW HAMPSHIRE – 2 casinos = (don’t count on it, although I expect it brought to legislature at least two more times in the next ten years) = Total of  2
VERMONT – yes, even Vermont has been questioning keeping its revenue in the state, since threatened by MA & NY = Total of  1
MAINE – 3 casinos, all expanded to small resorts and 2 tribal (Maliseets & Passamaquaddys) = Total of 5

Some say the Northeast is already saturated. Can you imagine if all this did come true?

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

I can’t wait to see what really happens before my eyes. And it all starts next year with MGM Springfield. Remember, “all change is not growth.”  But change is on the horizon.

Make it so!

That’s all for now.

Binbin