Background on expanded gambling in Massachusetts
In 2011, Massachusetts passed the Expanded Gaming Act. The law allowed for three Las Vegas-style casinos and one slots parlor to be constructed in the state. Specifically, the law divided Massachusetts into three regions. It allowed for one casino per region. Four years later, the Plainridge Park Casino (the slots parlor) opened to great fanfare in Plainville, Massachusetts. As evidence of approval for gambling in the state, the casino reached its allowed building capacity within a few hours, and cashiers were temporarily running out of money.
MGM Springfield opened on August 24, 2018, to fanfare and festivities. The nearly $1 billion property is located in the south end of Springfield and could be an economic shot in the arm for the city and region. (This is Region B under the law and covers the western third of the state.)
Encore Boston Harbor, opened June 2019. Originally named Wynn Everett and then Wynn Boston Harbor, it is a $2.5 billion property located in the Boston suburb of Everett. Under the law, this casino will serve Region A, which is the middle third of the state. (It includes Boston, the state’s capital and largest city).
What remains is Region C, the eastern third of the state, which includes Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. This is an important area because of the overall wealth. The lag on its development is largely due to ongoing court battles with the two federally recognized (and therefore eligible) Native American tribes in Massachusetts.
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe wants to build a $1 billion facility in Taunton. Resistance from residents is delaying the construction. At this point, it is still up in the air whether the tribe can proceed. The other tribe, the Aquinnah Wampanoag, resides on Martha’s Vineyard. They may have a better shot at approval from the court system, but nothing has been decided so far.
For now, Massachusetts can look forward to the three current mega-resorts underway in the state. In general, things have not been so dire in Massachusetts because of the state’s relatively small land area and its proximity to casinos in other states.
Residents and visitors to the state have two options in Rhode Island for playing slots. There is the Twin River Casino in Lincoln and Newport Grand Casino in Newport. Beyond that, Bay Staters can also visit Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun in Uncasville or Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket. All four of these casinos are fewer than two hours’ drive from most of Massachusetts.
Below is information on Massachusetts casinos and the other excellent nearby options.