70°F
weather icon Clear

Connecticut tribal casinos gear up for Wynn, MGM competition

Updated September 2, 2018 - 5:34 pm

HARTFORD, Conn. — At Bradley International, the airport serving Hartford, Connecticut, MGM Resorts International had a banner asking travelers if they would rather go to a resort in the middle of town or in the middle of nowhere.

It was an obvious dig at Connecticut’s two dominant tribal casinos, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s Foxwoods Resort and Casino and the Mohegan Indian Tribe’s Mohegan Sun, both on forested reservation land in the southeastern part of the state.

MGM Springfield, in the middle of Springfield, Massachusetts, opened its doors Aug. 24 to rave reviews and overflow crowds. Meanwhile, Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s Encore Boston Harbor is scheduled to open in June.

It’s too early to tell how MGM’s opening will affect customer traffic at the massive tribal resorts, but it’s clearly game on for a new era of casino competition in New England.

Ray Pineault, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun, said new competition is nothing new.

‘Preparing for this for years’

“We’ve been preparing for this for years. We understand the MGMs and Wynns are coming to Massachusetts and they’re looking to get into this New England market because it’s been such a successful market,” he said.

Pineault said the Mohegan Sun has weathered new competition from upstate New York since February, when Resorts World Catskills opened with 2,150 slot machines and 150 table games in Monticello. Resorts World already had a 5,000-slot parlor at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens near John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Also, “New Jersey has always been very competitive for us, and obviously Pennsylvania opened up with all their casinos,” Pineault said.

Massachusetts’ only other casino, a slots-only parlor at Plainridge Park harness racing track, opened in 2015.

To Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby, the new casinos represent the potential for wresting away revenue he believes belongs in Massachusetts.

“The evidence suggests if we did nothing else in Massachusetts but bring back (money that was) being gambled in casinos outside Massachusetts by our citizens and that alone would make it a success,” Crosby said. “We would have $250 million in tax revenue just by bringing back those citizens.”

More at stake

A Las Vegas gaming industry analyst believes there’s more at stake for MGM in the completion of MGM Springfield and the company’s competition with the tribes.

John DeCree of Las Vegas-based Union Gaming said MGM’s decision to blend the $960 million resort into the fabric of downtown Springfield sets the stage for future projects on the other side of the world.

“We spent several days in Springfield ahead of the opening, touring the new facility and getting a sense for local expectations,” DeCree said in an Aug. 27 report to investors.

“Two things were apparent. First, local residents are truly proud of the development; and second, MGM’s design and development team just gave the company a big boost in the race for licenses in new jurisdictions like Japan. The meticulous attention to detail, unique integration of local history, and success in restoring key historical landmarks like the 130-year old First Spiritualist Church and 123-year old State Armory, won’t go unnoticed by new jurisdictions considering MGM for new gaming and (integrated resorts) licenses.”

MGM relocated the historic church and armory to be a part of the four-block MGM Springfield campus. An estimated 15,000 people a day visited the new casino in the first weekend days after the opening.

Meanwhile, Connecticut’s tribal casinos are trying to counterpunch MGM’s new resort by partnering with each other on a new slot parlor in East Windsor, Connecticut, about 13 miles south of Springfield. The proposal is tied up in a federal court case involving the tribes, the state and the U.S. Department of Interior.

Rhode Island casino

And the competition continues to grow.

The Tiverton Casino Hotel, a 1,000-slot-machine, 32-table-game tribal casino in Rhode Island, 500 feet from the Massachusetts border, had its ribbon-cutting ceremony.

And then, there’s Encore Boston Harbor looming on the horizon. The battle for market share will be well- established by the time it arrives.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST