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

 

 

Casino Projects – Wynn Boston Harbor, Mashpee First Light and Brockton Fairgrounds, oh my! – Part #3

Part #3 – Our final look at Massachusetts’s Casino “Explosion in the East.” is Wynn Everett, or now called “Wynn Boston Harbor.”

“I could care less about Taunton,” Steve Wynn said, speaking at his company’s offices in Medford. “We thrive when there’s lots of activity. I’m happy to compete with any tribe and wish them all the best. ”

Wynn Boston Harbor

Wynn Boston Harbor

Bragging? Arrogance?   Not really, he’s right.  I’ve said it once and will say it again, Wynn’s complex will be the jewel of New England. That’s why Massachusetts would be much better off letting him build the casino project, now renamed Wynn Boston Harbor.  Even the name exudes the class and all encompassing excellence that we will be Mr. Wynn will present us with.

Concerning changing the name, Wynn said the name change – the casino had been referred to as Wynn Everett – works because the Mystic River feeds into Boston Harbor.

rendering of entranc at Wynn Boston Harbor

rendering of entranc at Wynn Boston Harbor

Wynn said he expected a challenge from the next door city of Somerville, which is concerned about the impact of traffic from the casino, to be dismissed relatively quickly, and said he is looking to break ground on July 1. “I’m sure that this will pass,” Wynn said.

The complex will be as amazing as Bellagio was when first introduced to Las Vegas. The following is from Seth Daniel’s article for Everett Independant:

That stuff that Steve is planning for this lavish resort includes:

Grand Foyer at Wynn Boston Harbor

Grand Foyer at Wynn Boston Harbor

  • a grand foyer that features an all-flower sculpture as one enters – a sculpture that would feature a carousel, a Ferris Wheel or a Faberge egg. Under it would be a flower design with the inspiration coming from a sea anemone.
  • two opposing crescent-shaped escaltors is the $23 million ‘Popeye the sailor man’ sculpture – purchased by Wynn specifically for the Everett property even before he had the gaming license. The curving escalators – which Wynn said cost 10 times as much as a traditional, straight escalator, curve inward and deposit one on the Mezzanine level of the resort.popeye
  • The retail portion and restaurants would branch off in both directions, but a mall type of structure would stretch out towards the Mystic River. The shops, he said, will be the same as other Wynn resorts, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton and others. One focal point within all of those grandiose pieces was the fact that there was no casino within sight.
  • The casino floor is huge, with two elevated gaming areas – one of which is likely to be the new sports bar concept that will be first unveiled at the Everett casino. The floor contains hundreds of slot stations, with gaming tables interspersed. The layout of the gaming will have segregated games, so that blackjack isn’t right next to roulette. Instead, similar games will be next to one another.

But there is still the problem of Somerville  Mayor Joe Curtatone stopping the progress with mitigation.  Is it that traffic problems will cost Somerville millions, or is it that Somerville has their hand our for a little extra cash.?

Sullivan Square Rotary

View of the Sullivan Square Rotary. (photo by Stuart Cahill) Somerville

Whatever the reason, Wynn dismissed it as just a momentary bump. Steve Wynn said he intends to break ground on his newly dubbed Wynn Boston Harbor casino in Everett by July 1, labeling the appeal of a key environmental permit that’s forced him to stall construction an “irritation” but not a significant roadblock.

Steve Wynn

Steve Wynn

In the same week, Steve Wynn also brushed off questions concerning the huge resort/casino by the Mashpee Wampanoags that will compete.  Wynn said he’s only operated in competitive markets, such as Las Vegas and Macau, and welcomes it. “I could care less about Taunton.”

While all the chaos continues in New England’s Gaming Industry, there’s one thing we can depend on – Steve Wynn will make a huge impact on New England’s gambling, retail, dining and entertainment community. Love him or hate him, Steve Wynn is success personified.

Binbin

Massachusetts Casino Region C – “To Be or Not To Be,” That IS the Question

Massachusetts Regions for full casinos.

Massachusetts Regions for full casinos. Doesn’t include Mashpee Wampanoags in Taunton or Plainridge Park Slot Parlor in Plainville.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has its hands full, it seems.

Steve Crosby, Chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

Steve Crosby, Chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

MGC Chairman Steve Crosby seems to thing all plans have a chance to work itself out.  The problem is, many others are doubting it will all come to fruition.  In a previous post 5 Reasons New England Gamblers Will Decide Where the Casino Money Goes, John Kostrzewa points to important considerations in New England’s Casino future – something Mr. Crosby and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission should read.

Let’s look at their original plan:

Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge Park Casino

SLOTS ONLY LICENSE – Plainridge Park Casino gets the revenue stream started, keeping Mass gamblers in state and luring way Rhode Island gamblers.  So far, it has been very successful while seeing a decline each month after its opening.

Wynn Everett Resort Everett, Mass

Wynn Everett Resort Everett, Mass

 

 

REGION A LICENSE – Wynn is hand picked after sending home Caesars, then allowing the glitz of Vegas to dismiss Mohegan Sun.

Wynn is now starting the clean-up of the old Monsanto waste site, in litigation with numerous parties, and considering changes to its proposal as this is posted.

MGM Springfield

New rendering of MGM Springfield’s

REGION B LICENSE – MGM Resorts is chosen in Springfield, only to have unapproved changes made, and delays estimated to put off the opening for three years.  Connecticut continues to pressure the MGM project with a third Casino of its own in a joint effort from Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods – somewhere withing the vicinity of 30 miles from Springfield.

Proposed Brockton Casino

Proposed Brockton Casino

REGION C LICENSE – Only Brockton remains, but hasn’t been given the license because of the rebirth of the Wampanoags Taunton project.  The MGC is taking a wait and see path, as Twin River bulks up with additional tables, added poker room, a hotel, and possibly moving Newport Grand to Tiverton – across the border from Plainridge Park in Plainville.

How is this all panning out?  Originally, four Mass. casinos would be looting & pillaging CT & RI casinos by 2017.  But it’s not looking like the plan is on track.

The main concern at this time for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is should a Region C license be awarded at all.  According to MGC Chair Steve Crosby, “They can coexist……They would cannibalize one another. Neither one of them would do as well.”

But the main concern here isn’t casinos, community involvement, traffic, or lawsuits.  It’s cash, moolah, the almighty buck.

The expansive Mashpee Wampanoag  Casino Proposal in Brockton, Mass.

The expansive Mashpee Wampanoag Casino Proposal in Brockton, Mass.

Under the compact between the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and Massachusetts, the state would collect 17% of the tribal casino’s gaming revenues, compared with 25% of revenues from the commercial casino. However, the tribal casino would not be required to pay taxes if a commercial casino were to open in the same region. Which would mean the same number of gamblers, but half the revenue to the state. Would the MGC deny Rush Gaming a chance in Brockton because the Mashpee Wampanoags project looks more likely to happen than three months ago? Is one large Tribal casino better than two casinos – tribal and commercial – co-existing?

Remember, the Massachusetts  Casino Law in 2011 didn’t become law because the Massachusetts legislature thought adding the devil of gambling to its list of tourist attractions, it was the greedy devil from within to get their Bay State money back that had been spent by Massachusetts patrons for years in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Spock in "Amok Time" - Star Trek.

Spock in “Amok Time” – Star Trek.

I guess it’s not that easy to build a casino and hear the stream of money drop into Massachusetts coffers.  Dear Mr. Crosby, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Or,  as Spock said in Star Trek, season 2, episode 1 (“Amok Time,” 1968) , ““After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but is often true.”

That’s all for now.

Binbin