In part one, we looked back at an exciting year in New England’s casinos. But now let’s take a look forward at New England Casinos in 2020.
New England Casinos 2020
(In alphabetical order)
Encore Boston Harbor
Yes, the most anticipated casino in New England since MGM Springfield was to be the best. But the Las Vegas model of Wynn International properties is not fitting in. One of the most beautiful casinos in the land can’t get a crowd. And blue collar Bostonians don’t expect to pay $16 for a hotdog and hamburgers starting at $20!
Changes are in the “Wynnd” at EBH, but unfortunately not all are positive.
- Wynn Resorts is in the process of “rightsizing” operations at the $2.6 billion casino by pursuing using automated drink dispensers to speed up drink service for gamblers. But, it will also replace an undetermined number of “back of the house” bartenders and other staff.
- The casino has turned away between 600 and 800 minors each month due to invalid or fake IDs. The solution? – The casino now has less entrances to the gaming floor. The property will also install hardwired scanners in the future to detect fake and invalid IDs.
- On the positive, longterm developments include on the huge parcel of land it owns in front of the property could include an Arena, a boutique arts district, more hotels and a broader entertainment district.
- Also, a tiered card program offers rewards for a variety of customers, rather than just the top spenders. This is the only Wynn property to install this. The one size (extra-large) fits all “Red Card” has been tweaked in 2020 at EBH.
- Lower table minimums are offered and and parking is free 24/7. “We thought we could charge for parking here in Boston, and we were wrong,” Brian Gullbrandts said. “We have now made self-parking free for all guests, 24/7.
It’s been less than a year. We anticipate Encore Boston Harbor’s changes as it evolves to the New England gambler.
Foxwoods Resort Casino has been watching numerous months fly by with disappointing revenue. Once considered one of the top five brands in the country, it needs to hold on tight to its loyal customers while trying new projects to reinvent itself. Once the largest resort casino in North America, the “Wonder of it All” in the Connecticut woods has downsized from five casinos to four. It has also lowered its slot inventory to 3500 slot machines instead of the over 5000 ten years ago.
- The non-gaming amenities seems to be still be the plan. Thrill rides, a new arcade, luxury bowling, etc, are in the future to continue to create the all-in-one family casino resort at a scale that rivals Vegas.
- The Mashantucket Pequots, who own and run Foxwoods, are now seeking additional projects. Just recently, in Philadelphia, ” a 448-unit residential complex — the bulk of which will be in a multi-family structure — supported by one-for-one parking and over 12,000 square feet of retail space”, as reported by PBS affiliate Whyy.com. The apartment structure will be built first, followed by 92 townhomes, according to developer National Realty Investment Advisors. Foxwoods first tried to build a casino in this is waterfront area, but the community voted against it.
- The newest lounge options are the M-Bar, with the “M” representing Macallan® whiskey and a new Champagne Lounge featuring Luc Belaire French sparkling wine in the Fox Casino.
Status quo seems to be the plan for both Hollywood Bangor and Oxford. Both now have hotels, decent amenities and a few good dining options. It was the state of Maine that was expected to make them more profitable, especially Bangor’s Racetrack, with everybody’s newest interest – sports betting. Unfortunately for Maine betters and casinos, Gov. Janet Mills vetoed the bill approving it. Lobbyists for the sports betting industry insist it’s not over. Two legislative plans may hurt Maine’s Casinos.
- The Granite State’s lottery commission approved sports betting and a contract with the online gaming company DraftKings in December and betting in that state, the second in New England to allow the practice, began in earnest in January.
- Maine and tribal governments are meeting to propose major changes to give tribes broader authority over issues including taxes, gambling and fishing. Maine’s four federally recognized tribes – the Penobscot Nation, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and the Aroostook Band of Micmacs – have a dramatically different relationship with state government than many other tribes across the nation because of the 1980 settlement act. If gambling were allowed because of changes in the 1980 agreement, it could be a new game of competition for Oxford Casino Hotel & Hollywood Hotel and casino.
MGM’s future looks good for the city of Springfield. But, the expected revenue figures scream that there is something wrong. With every week, MGM Springfield introduces something new, moves around kiosks, and adds non-gaming amenities. Enticing the Red Sox to choose them as their sponsor was a big coup from Foxwoods. MGMS continues to reduce their slot inventory to make space and improve the ambiance. Here are a few things to look forward to at one of the premier New England Casinos in 2020.
- MGM announced its partnership with Massachusetts-based GE Solar to build the giant solar panel canopy atop MGM Springfield’s 8-story parking garage. The newly installed solar panel canopy will generate more than 1,600 megawatt hours of electricity once it goes online. This will be enough energy to power 10% of the entire property.
- The addition of a VIP lounge is a great addition, but just doesn’t get the use or have the amenities others do. It’s beautiful, but it’s kinda of like eating in a library.
- Future considerations that must be addressed are getting the higher end gambler to stay at the property, coaxing the Asian gambling market to have a much bigger presence.
- Continuing to make the gaming a better deal for its regulars. Steps have been taken with the addition of electronic table games, lower table game minimums and more video poker, although many of the pay tables are undesirable.
- The unstable finances of MGM International have caused the outright selling of Las Vegas Circus Circus and the sale and lease of Bellagio & MGM Grand. Being discussed is the future sale of MGM Springfield and then leasing it back. It’s the same strategy that MGM is using for the Bellagio. Several politicians in Massachusetts voiced their skepticism over the sale of MGM Springfield, especially mayor Domenic J. Sarno.
The Sun is a resort casino that is also part of the “decreased revenue” club. As with Foxwoods, month after month has seen drops. It has even closed its third casino, Casino of the Wind, completely and moved its poker room and decreased its slot inventory. However, the Mohegan Tribe continues to be on the move, inside and outside of Uncasville and stands to be the New England that is best ready for 2020.
Inside Improvements – Mohegan Sun
- A 10,000 square-foot, 300-seat Pan-Asian restaurant to open at Mohegan Sun in 2020. Tao will take the space occupied by Bobby Flay’s Bar Amercain. The TAO brand has become synonymous with great food, elevated cocktails, a vibrant ambience, and overall spectacular setting for any occasion.
- Michael Jordan’s 23.Sportcafe will be closed for renovations and rebranded as MJ23 Sports Bar & Grill.
Outside Improvements – Mohegan Sun
- Mohegan is looking to build INSPIRE Athens, in partnership with GEK TERNA in Greece. The resort consists of a luxury hotel, entertainment venues, convention center, shopping, dining, casino, and a comprehensive mix of premium amenities. The development will help launch a new era of tourism growth and economic prosperity for all of Greece and the entire region.
- In partnership with Virgin Group LTD. has entered into a multi-year agreement with JC Hospitality to operate the 60,000-square foot gaming space at the soon to be Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, previously known as the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
- The service provider for the Niagara Gaming Bundle in Canada and will have the responsibility for the day-to-day gaming operations of Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara and future operation of the future Niagara Falls Entertainment Centre.
- Mohegan will have exclusive rights to develop the planned world-class Korean integrated resort project to full-scale, Inspire, a first-of-its-kind integrated resort. Inspire is slated to open in 2020.
Plainridge Park Casino and Raceway
Plainridge has no hotel. It has no real table games. in my opinion, it has a dismal future. 2020 could be the demise of Plainridge Park if the Massachusetts legislature doesn’t change the Massachusetts Gambling Law so Plainridge Park can add table games and have a fighting chance. 2020 could be the year Penn Gaming, owner of Plainridge, tries to sell the property, or maybe both properties in New England since also owns Hollywood Bangor.
Rhode Island Casinos
The future continues to look bleak. With the opening of Encore Boston Harbor, revenue will still be in a free fall in 2020. A lack of positive media, such as the investigation of the Governor and the state’s IGT supply deal, continue to hamper progress.
Being the only New England state to have sports betting and mobile sports betting (New Hampshire will also approve sports betting in 2020), gets bettors in the doors from Massachusetts and Connecticut. It will continue to help only until Massachusetts approves sports betting.
In the mean time, Twin River has changed much of the slot floor to new machines and continues to offer table minimums below that of Encore. Twin River needs a few more high end restaurants as well.
Sports Betting – New England Casinos 2020
In 2020, Massachusetts will be the third state in New England to have its legislature approve sports betting. This will change the game somewhat with MA, RI, and NH the only states to offer it.
What about Connecticut, you ask? Connecticut is mired in numerous gambling dilemmas, including sports betting. Between the joint probable casino in East Windsor by the Pequots and Mohegans, an offer to the tribes to build in Bridgeport instead, and the insistence on a monopoly of all gaming except the lottery by the tribes, it will prove to be a messy legislature in the Nutmeg state. Massachusetts is a sure third place in this race.
Final Words and Fierce Competition
Yes, I do believe New England is getting close to saturation. The competition will be fierce to get the whale and the loyal low roller. It will be a very interesting 2020 at New England Casinos.
Visiting New England’s Casinos?
Robin T. Aubin (AKA Binbin at NETimeGambling) has been a guest on Cousin Vito’s Casino Podcast, The Bettor Life Podcast, The Art in the Game Podcast featuring all that is Springfield, Massachusetts. as well as ZorkCast with Michael Trager. As founder of NETimeGambling.com, he has tried to provide a resource for recreational gamblers featuring New England’s expanding casino market events, gambling promotions and entertainment. As a professional musician for over 50 years, he has performed in some of New England’s best venues, namely Mohegan Sun’s Wolf Den, Foxwoods’ Atrium Lounge, and Twin River’s Lighthouse Bar & Lounge.
LINKS to New England Casinos
- Connecticut – Foxwoods Resort/Casino and Mohegan Sun Resort/Casino
- Rhode Island – Tiverton Casino Hotel and Twin River Hotel/Casino
- Massachusetts – Plainridge Park Casino & Raceway, MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor
- Maine – Oxford Casino and Hollywood Bangor Hotel, Casino & Raceway.
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