New England Casino Gambling History – Updated

The New England Casino Gambling History has been much like  a horse race. To begin with, it was a slow trot for New England to socially approve of  gambling. Soon, it changed to a full sprint. In fact, there is no finish line in sight. With the word “saturation” thrown around annually, casino expansion continues. The future looks to include sports betting, casinos in Bridgeport, CT., East Windsor, CT., and southeastern Massachusetts.

With the future uncertain, let’s look back to see how we got here. In any event, let’s look back at New England Gambling History.

My interest in gambling began with playing card games such as cribbage and Michigan Rummy. With visits to Hartford Jai-Alai and Plainfield Greyhound Racetrack during my twenties, my interest grew. In fact, visits to the Sands in Atlantic City, Foxwoods Bingo Hall and future CT casinos made me even more curious.

"Roll the Bones" by Dr. David Schwartz

“Roll the Bones” by Dr. David Schwartz

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

To read our NETG review of his book, click here.

The New England Influence

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

Once Upon a time….

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

The Pequot War of 1637 set the stage for the separation of Pequot and Mohegan tribes.

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

I should mention that gambling found a homes in New England with greyhound & horse tracks, parimutuel parlors, and Jai alai frontons in Milford & Hartford CT, and Newport, RI. However, in the past ten years, the horse-racing industry has seen a major decrease in raceway operations. In addition,Jai-Alai has moved out of those states, and parimutuel parlors continue to diminish in visitors. Conversely, with the future of sports betting, parimutuel parlors may rise in popularity again.

In essence, here is  NETG’s look back at the journey of legalized gambling in New England below.

New England Casino Gambling History Timeline

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

Foxwoods Started it all with Bingo.


1992

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

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The Rainmaker at Foxwoods

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


1996

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

A Dollar Coin from Mohegan Sun Opening

A Dollar Coin from Mohegan Sun Opening


2005

Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway opens in Bangor, Maine

Hollywood Casino, Bangor Maine

Hollywood Casino, Bangor Maine


2007

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

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2008

MGM joins Foxwoods with additional hotel / casino

MGM Tower at Foxwoods - Right side.

MGM Tower at Foxwoods – Right side.


The Expansion begins

2011

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


2012

Oxford Casino opens in Oxford, Maine

Oxford Casino, Maine

Oxford Casino, Maine


2013

MGM pulls out of it’s Foxwoods partnership

MGM Ends Agreement with Foxwoods

MGM Ends Agreement with Foxwoods


2015

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

Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge Park Casino in Massachusetts


2018

     A Big Year for New England Casinos and Hotels 

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

Oxford Hotel & Casino

MGM Springfield Resort Casino opens

MGM Springfield

Newport Grand Slots Casino closes

Newport Grand Slots, Newport, RI

Tiverton Casino & Hotel opens

Tiverton Casino/ Hotel.

Twin River Casino adds Hotel

Twin River Hotel Lobby

Mohegan Sun opens Earth Expo Center

Mohegan Expo Center

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

Opening day of Phase I Sports Book at Twin River Casino


2019

Encore Boston Harbor to open in the fall

Encore Boston Harbor rendition, courtesy of Encore Boston Harbor pressroom


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

Binbin

East Windsor is Chosen By MMCT for CT Casino

In keeping with today’s post, NETG correspondent Bert reported breaking news after noon time concerning the MMCT, the joint venture between the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegan tribes. The tribes announced that they have chosen the vacant Showcase Cinemas lot in East Windsor as the location for Connecticut’s third casino.

Cinema in East Windsor for proposed casino.

Cinema in East Windsor for proposed casino.

Right off Route I-91 and only a few minutes from the Massachusetts line, East Windsor was chosen over the Windsor Locks location closer to Bradley International Airport.

The proposal includes:

  • space as large as 300,000 square feet (Twin River Casino is about 300,000 sq. ft.)
  • and with 2,000 slot machines (1.5 more slots than Plainridge Park)
  • and 150 game tables (less than half of the amount in either Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun).
  • A 2,500-space parking garage would be relocated just to the east of the abandoned Showcase building, in addition to a 1,200-space garage nearby.

Last September, the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans — the tribal operators of the state’s two casinos forming MMCT — reopened the search for proposals for a Hartford-area gambling attraction to compete with a $950 million casino and entertainment complex under construction in nearby Springfield.  Jobs and state revenue were said to be the two most important factors in adding a third casino, combating expected losses to MGM Springfield which is well on their way to completing their “urban casino.”

More on this in the coming week.

Binbin

Massachusetts More Worried, Not Mohegan Sun, About New England’s Casino Share

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Casino Industry Worried?

After chatting with friends and colleagues recently in Las Vegas concerning their thoughts on Massachusetts’ Gaming Expansion, it seemed to be unanimous – Massachusetts is doing it their way, but not necessarily the best way.  They are running a little scared lately, but are too stubborn to show it. It includes badgering Steve Wynn, making Rush Gaming Developers wait for a Region C decision, and letting MGM

MGM Springfield

New rendering of MGM Springfield’s cut down proposal.

change this and that without approval. It seems the Bay State’s opinion of Mohegan Sun Resorts follows the same narrow-minded spin.

Bruce Mohl, from Commonwealth Magazine, recently reported in his article “Casino Border Wars” that Mohegan Sun as an underachiever not good enough for Massachusetts.  With the history Mass casinos so far, they would have been so lucky to have Mohegan Sun part of that gambling Plan.

His reasons for such a poor opinion of the Mohegan Tribe’s casinos?  Well, let’s take a look:

  1. A key reason for the casino’s success was the large number of customers pouring over the border from Massachusetts. That’s True. But let’s include Maine, NH, Vermont, Rhode Island, NY, and NJ (which took a bite out of Atlantic City).  It’s because both Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun are “Destinations,” unlike Plainridge Park Casino (a box of slots – MGM’s own description) and the proposal in Brockton which represents a mid-level locals casino in Nevada.
  2. Not welcome in Palmer.
    Mohegan Palmer Casino

    Mohegan Sun’s rendition of Mohegan Palmer Casino

    Palmer Mohegan Sun applied for the Region A (Western) license of 150 acres of land purchased in Palmer – land that was waste-free (Everett) and didn’t entail bulldozing blocks of historical buildings (MGM in Springfield) and was closer to the newest threat to western Massachusetts. The bid was rejected by 94 votes out of over 5200. Why? It would “destroy the rural character of a town.” So, instead, they mirror the state’s poverty level of 11% and added a Motor Speedway.  Go figure.

  3. Not Welcome in Revere. Mohegan Sun joined forces with Suffolk Downs in Revere in a bid to win the eastern Massachusetts casino license, however, Wynn Resorts was chosen to build a casino in Everett. Wynn was great in winning over the Gaming Commission, by criticizing the Revere proposal as Mohegan Sun’s pursuit was “to protect its flagship casino in Connecticut.”
    mohegan-sun-revere-casino-rendering-7414f532fa69586d

    Rendition of Mohegan Sun at Suffolk Downs in Revere

    The MGC believed it, even though the Mohegan Tribe has made Resorts Casino in AC a winner and it’s Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania continues to be a success.

  4. Protecting It’s Own Casino Interests. Mr. Mohl and the rest of Massachusetts thinks it’s awful that Mohegan would expand to other areas to protect its assets. But, he just doesn’t get it.  MGM & Wynn expanded outside of Las Vegas, and they did it to expand their brand. MGM is looking at Georgia for an additional site, and both are in China. Expanding their brand.  Penn National expanded to Plainville after already owning Hollywood Hotel Casino in Bangor, Maine.  They now own two New England casinos, yet nothing was said about Plainridge Park protecting it’s Hollywood Casino.  The Mohegan Tribe, much like Penn, MGM, Wynn, Caesars’, etc have the right to expand.  If you’re successful in the casino industry, that’s what you do.

Mohl’s bottom line, and I quote, “What all this maneuvering tells you is that Mohegan Sun — and the state of Connecticut — are very worried about the impact of Massachusetts casinos on the casino businesses in Connecticut and willing to do just about anything to blunt their impact.”

If something doesn’t scare you, or threaten you, ignore it? But if it is a concern, pay a lot of attention to it – and that’s just what Massachusetts is doing.  CT knows that more casinos in New England will impact their two large destination casinos, so they are doing something about it.  But Massachusetts continues to look south to CT and south-east to Rhode Island as both states make plans to battle or New England’s gamblers.

Rendition Wampanoag Casino in Taunton

Rendition Wampanoag Casino in Taunton

Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge Park Casino in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is the state most worried about it’s share of the pie.  MGM wouldn’t be trying to stall CT’s third casino and the MGC wouldn’t be considering no Region C license due to the Wampanoag’s casino proposal gaining momentum if they weren’t. Plainridge Park has seen two straight months of decline – a sudden concern – and Twin River & the CT casinos have seen positive revenue in recent months.  MGM says it’s not worried, but continues to cut back its approved proposal in Springfield, and both MGM & Wynn won’t be making money for the Bay State until late 2018.

So who’s doing the most maneuvering and who is the most worried?

I say Massachusetts.

That’s all for now.

 

Binbin