The Northeast Casino Market Is Basically A Game Of Thrones Turf War

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Since the 1990s, the Northeast has been the exclusive domain of two tribal casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. The two locations are off the beaten path. Both reside in the southeast corner of Connecticut. However, for most New Englanders looking for a casino, they were the only game in town.

That’s no longer the case.

Even though the two biggest casinos are still under construction, the Northeast Casino Wars have begun.

Plainridge Casino, a slot parlor in Plainville, Massachusetts, opened in June 2015. Plus, two mega-casinos, the MGM Springfield in western Massachusetts and the Wynn Boston Harbor just outside of Boston, are opening in the fall of 2018 and summer of 2019 respectively.

Wynn Boston Harbor will be competing with MGM Springfield. Both will also be fighting for market share with the two established East Coast powerhouses in Connecticut though.

The two tribal casinos are right next to one another. MGM, Wynn, and the tribal casinos are between a 90-minute and a two-hour drive from one other. Their locations create a veritable gaming triangle for potential customers.

Wynn is king of the north

Wynn will have a huge advantage with patrons traveling south from the coastal population centers in New Hampshire and Maine. The casino’s location saves would-be visitors at least an hour of driving.

Wynn will be an hour’s drive for people coming from Nashua, New Hampshire, whereas Nashua to MGM Springfield is closer to two hours.

Vermonters will find MGM and Wynn about equidistant, with a drive time of just under three hours.

MGM, Foxwoods, and Mohegan fight for the south

MGM, Foxwoods, and Mohegan Sun will fight for customers coming from New York and further south and west. For those areas, Wynn Boston Harbor is still another two hours away.

However, this is more than offset by Wynn’s proximity to Boston. This is likely to act as firewall, keeping most Boston residents from making the two-hour trip to MGM or one of the tribal casinos.

Plenty of contested markets up for grabs inside the triangle

But there are also a lot of markets up for grabs.

In much the same way Wynn will cut off the Boston market, MGM will likely decimate Foxwoods and Mohegan’s player base from the Springfield area, which has a population of around 150,000.

Fortunately for the tribal casinos, there isn’t much west of Springfield until Albany, New York.

Albany is over an hour closer to MGM Springfield than the tribal casinos. However, New York also added a few casinos this year. With that in mind, Albany’s population of 100,000 is unlikely to be a hotbed for MGM.

But other than Albany, most of the larger population centers within driving distance sit between MGM, Foxwoods, and Mohegan Sun.

Hartford is closer to Springfield but not by much

One such market is Hartford, Connecticut, and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top there. Hartford’s population of 125,000 sits about 30 minutes from Springfield and about 45 minutes from Mohegan and Foxwoods.

Worcester is right smack dab in the middle

An even more interesting area in this region is Worcester, Massachusetts, which has a population of 190,000. Worcester to Foxwoods is just over an hour by car, and Worcester to MGM will take about the same amount of time.

Providence residents can go anywhere

The Providence market (population 180,000) will have the most options.

  • Springfield is about an hour-and-a-half away
  • Everett is about an hour-and-a-half away
  • Foxwoods is about an hour away

But for Providence residents there’s also Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. That property is just 15 minutes from the city. A converted dog track, Twin River has been steadily increasing its gambling footprint in recent years.  In 1992, Twin River added slot machines. Table games were added in 2013. And a 135-room hotel is currently under construction.

Twin River’s not a destination casino. However, it is a viable alternative for anyone in the immediate vicinity not interested in an hour-plus drive.

Connecticut tries to fight casino cannibalization

Connecticut’s legislature recently approved a new $300 million satellite casino that would be built right on the Massachusetts border. The new casino, a joint project between Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, is meant to help offset the expected cannibalization when Massachusetts casinos open.

The new Connecticut casino won’t have much impact on Wynn Boston Harbor, but it would be a direct competitor to MGM Springfield just 15 minutes away.

The extremely close proximity and the fact that it will cost less than a third of what MGM is spending probably won’t change where too many people wind up — after all, what’s another 15 minutes?

Steve Ruddock

About

Steve Ruddock is an avid poker player and a veteran member of the gaming media. His primary focus is on the regulated US online casino and poker markets. He writes for numerous online and print publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

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