Market Saturation Leads to Casino Fatigue

MGM in Springfield, Steve Wynn outside Boston, Plainridge Park in Plainville, Mass., the Mashpee Wampanoag in Taunton, Mass., the old Brockton Fairgrounds in Brockton, Mass., Twin Rivers in Tiverton, Rhode Island, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods in Connecticut, and a third, yet-to-be-determined casino in either East Hartford, East Windsor, Enfield or Windsor Locks. Is there anyone who doubts the casino gambling market will be saturated within a few years? And is there any doubt that the gambling public (such that it is) is tired of hearing about these projects? A saturated gambling market has led to casino fatigue.

Without commissioning a study that would tell us that Connecticut will lose jobs when the MGM projects opens (duh), it’s still clear that this many gambling facilities will dilute business. The state now has set up a very-possibly-unconstitutional process to open a third casino. Brilliant. If a third casino in Connecticut will keep gamblers from crossing the state line into Springfield, it will also syphon off gamblers who currently go to the existing two state casinos. While Connecticut tries to play defense in the casino wars, it’s set out to cannibalize its own gamblers.

Every single one of the new projects has its obstacles—some small, some big. Wynn and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh are piling up lawsuits against each other like cord wood for the winter. Boston is technically suing the state gaming commission but the animosity between Walsh and Wynn is palpable.

casino walking dice

MGM is getting the evil eye from Springfield officials and residents because it has downsized its plan and 86’ed an entire hotel. Brockton officials say if its developer gets the third and final Massachusetts casino license—the southeastern golden ticket—it can actually open before MGM or Wynn. That’s Brockton’s selling point.

Meanwhile, back on the reservation, the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians have purchased land in Taunton, Mass. and plan to building their own casino. Yikes.

One project that is actually up and running is the slots casino in Plainville, Mass. Plainridge Park opened with much fanfare and a stated goal of taking gamblers away from the Connecticut resorts. Plainridge’s slots revenue has been sinking like a stone ever since.

In Rhode Island, Twin River Management is proposing another casino. It operates two in RI already that are not exactly palaces. The new one, in Tiverton, would be an effort to keep Rhode Island gamblers in that state. It also would be a stone’s throw from the Massachusetts border. No, really. It would be 380 feet from the Mass. border.

The third-casino plan in Connecticut has generated another ugly element—a union thug accusing a respected state senator of being “bought and paid for” by MGM if he doesn’t just rubber stamp any new plan.

The whole casino situation in the three New England states in question (a Bangor, Maine casino is also tanking) is a financial bubble waiting to burst. It’s very possible that at least one—and possibly several—of these projects won’t ever get built. Companies like MGM and Wynn don’t build unless they are going to reap big profits.

As projects propagate, Connecticut’s share (25 percent of the slots) of revenue from Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods plateaued years ago and has been sinking ever since. So what does Connecticut do when business is bad at its two casinos? It builds another one! Paging Dr. Carson…please hit me over the head with a hammer…Dr. Carson.

Or perhaps we should just call Donald Trump and make everything the very best.