According to the Connecticut legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis, the MGM Casino in Springfield, Mass. will drain $86 million per from Connecticut coffers starting in 2019. Connecticut is moving slowly toward building a third casino in the I-93 corridor (will it ever really happen?) to try to stem the flow of casino customers to Springfield. But consider this: If Connecticut stays on schedule to upgrade its part of the Hartford to Springfield rail line, it will mean some 25 daily round trips between the two cities when MGM is up and running. What do we think that will do for MGM while hurting any third Connecticut casino?
As far as The Shad can tell, there’s been no study on how regular, round-trip rail service between Hartford and Springfield will help MGM get Connecticut customers through the door but it’s common sense that jumping on a nice new rail car in Hartford to spend the day or night in Springfield’s jewel of a resort would be attractive. Much more so that playing some slots at Bradley Airport.
Even if a third Connecticut casino gets approved and built, it will be a postage stamp compared with the $950 million MGM development and won’t be able to compete. It’s unclear how it’s constitutional that the Connecticut legislature handed the two existing Indian casino operators the rights to build a third casino—any other interested developer was shut out. But it seems unlikely any third casino will impact the flow of Connecticut patrons to Springfield.
The unintended consequence of improving the rail line between Hartford and Springfield is that Connecticut residents can get out of Hartford and to Springfield with great convenience, greatly helping MGM.