…Until They Expand the Casino
MGM Springfield opening (reopening) could never happen. The City of Springfield, its residents, its workers, its investors, have put all their eggs in the MGM Resorts International basket. Unfortunately, now the perfect storm is forming. This storm has the potential to silence the sounds on One MGM Way and includes competition, space, and unimpressive financials. So, Should MGM Springfield even bother opening at all?
Expand the Casino Space
From Day 1, its casino floor was considered jam packed with gaming options – so much so that many patrons complained about the amount available space. The floor space improved with 400 slots removed and another video poker bar. MGM wanted this to be all things to all people, but failed in many aspects.
Related Post – MGM Springfield Is Not A Resort
We propose thinking out of the box – or, actually, thinking above the box. Let’s face it, they have access to the MassMutualCenter for conferences and small conventions. Build a casino extension upstairs.
Should MGM Springfield even bother opening at all? Yes, as soon as they build more gambling space. The second floor consists of 34,000 square feet. By keeping the largest multi-room, the 10,600-square-foot Aria Ballroom, the other areas could give at least another 15,000 sq. ft. for high limit, or table games. The 2nd-floor casino would take over the “Terrace” area, which overlooks Armory Square, the city’s iconic 19th-century U.S. National Guard Armory.
Economic Feasibility Of Reopening
On the 17th of June, “MGM questions economic feasibility of reopening” in the Western Mass News touched on potential issues with regard MGM Springfield Opening.
Western Mass News
MGM Springfield officials are questioning the economic feasibility of reopening their casino during a call Wednesday with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Western Mass News – Seth Stratton is MGM Springfield’s vice president
Seth Stratton, MGM Springfield’s vice president, and general counsel made those comments during the more than two-hour-long call with the commission and representatives from the state’s two other casinos – Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park.
Western Mass News
Stratton is concerned that the limited number of people allowed on the gaming floor would make it difficult to operate the facility.
There are even concerns, not necessarily related to economic feasilbity that were brought forth by Springfield City Councilor Michael Fenton.
Western Mass News – Fenton is a Springfield City Councilor
Fenton told us he’s not optimistic that MGM would be able to reopen that day when phase 3 begins, as early as June 29 due to all the precautions they would have to put in place.
Why So Small in the First Place?
When licenses were considered for Region B (Western Massachusetts), the Massachusetts Gaming Commission preferred big names like Wynn Resorts and MGM. The Mohegans from Connecticut had proposed an expansive 164,000-foot resort casino with a 600-room hotel in Palmer, Massachusetts right off the Mass Pike exit.
Instead, they chose to squeeze MGM’s casino in downtown Springfield with a casino of 125,000 sq. Ft. and 250 hotel rooms. Let’s face it was too small, to begin with.
MGM’s other two city casinos are larger. MGM Detroit offers 4000 slots and 90 tables on a 100,000 sq. ft. casino floor and 400 rooms. MGM National Harbor in Maryland has 135,000 sq. ft. of gaming space.
Related Post – MGM Springfield Continues Improvements – But More is Needed
Financial Revenue Spiral
2/3 of Expected Revenue
MGM Springfield reported gross gambling revenue of just $18.9 million for December 2019 — the lowest full-month revenue figure in the casino’s 16-month history. In February’s report, the slot revenue was half of the smaller slot parlor Plainridge Park. MGM Springfield has fallen short of promised revenue prior to its opening in August 2018. In 18 months of operation, it has produced only 2/3 of the expected revenue.
Competition and Loyalty
The two Connecticut tribal casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are entrenched competitors in the New England market for 20-plus years. Mike Mathis, ex-head of MGM Springfield, said: “I think we under-estimated that level of loyalty and what it would take for those customers to give us a shot.” Now, both Connecticut casinos have been reopened since June 1st, a critical advantage.
RELATED POST – MGM Springfield Continues Improvements – But More is Needed
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Massachusetts Gaming Commission and COVID-19 Protocol
Last week’s Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting vowed to make casino restrictions the tightest in the country to accompany Governor Baker’s own set of guidelines as well. The following restrictions are the most disconcerting to Massachusetts casinos:
- there will be no poker, craps or roulette until further notice
- blackjack-style gaming tables will be capped at three players
- slots machines must have a minimum of six feet between operating slot machines, slightly less with Plexiglas dividers
- occupancy limited to a quarter of each casino’s regular capacity. MGM Springfield total occupancy would go from 7,400 to as low as 1,870. Capacity control at the door will be necessary.
- Casino bars will remain closed. Limited beverage service to patrons who are actively gambling. Patrons will not be allowed to walk around with a drink or take it from slot machine to slot machine or table to table.
So Many Concerns – MGM Springfield Opening
Does It Even Make Sense?
Seth Stratton, MGM Springfield’s vice president, is questioning the economic feasibility of reopening their casino. The limited number of people allowed on the gaming floor will make it very difficult to operate. “I think our team has to look and see if there is an economically feasible way to reopen,” he said.
Michael Trager, from TravelZork, was quoted as saying “I sort of wonder if it’s even worth opening. It would be huge if MGM just said: “ya know, COVID and all, let’s just keep this one closed.” He continues, “This was always a concern with MGM. They put profits first, people last. If it had been another operator, they might have been more willing to open for the community and the employees. But, MGM just sees it as red-ink, and that’s their main concern.” Profit Growth and shareholders are what MGM worries about, not about employees and not about community — only about customers if they can make them money.”
MGM Springfield Opening
Players to Support The “New Norm?”
Springfield will find it hard to turn around their negative financials. Pandemic restrictions will only hinder them more. Social distancing will be very difficult in this space.
With so few table games, under these circumstances, they can’t make money, unless they raise the table minimums to $50/$100. With more slots out of commission, and if they raise the table game minimums, MGM Springfield may not have the clientele to play.
While we certainly hope for a forward-thinking short and long term solution for the reopening of MGM Springfield, maybe, it’s time for MGM Resorts International to fold its hand. Perhaps, what Springfield needs is a more regional independent operator that genuinely wants to develop gaming in Western Massachusetts.
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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