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The New England casino market is about to go through some big changes in the coming weeks, which could impact the landscape for both sports betting and online poker and gambling.
Two brand new casinos will open their doors on Aug. 24 and Sept. 1 respectively, with another facility shutting down in between.
And that’s only the beginning. There are even more changes coming to the region down the road.
Further, sports betting is coming to the region, and interest in online gambling continues to gain steam.
But before that happens, there are some new casinos to discuss.
The first new casino will be the MGM Springfield, located in Springfield, Mass. The casino is slated to open its doors on Aug. 24.
The billion-dollar casino project is the first of two destination casinos coming to Massachusetts. The $2.4 billion Encore Boston Harbor is on schedule for its June 2019 opening.
MGM Springfield will be the first destination casino to open in the region since Mohegan Sun in 1996.
Located in Western Massachusetts, MGM Springfield is expected to attract visitors from all over the state. It will also act as a chokepoint for traffic from the north (Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine) and New York that would normally be headed further south to the two Connecticut casinos. That has the two tribal casinos in Connecticut very concerned.
The property will boast:
On Aug. 28, just a few days after the MGM launch, Newport Grand‘s quarter-century run as a casino (the jai alai fronton was turned into a slots parlor in 1992) will come to an end. Newport Grand’s closing isn’t a negative, it’s simply to make room for a newer, better casino in the state.
When its doors are shuttered at Newport Grand its gaming license will shift to a new casino in Tiverton, R.I.
The Twin River Tiverton Casino — a sister-property to Twin River in Lincoln — is scheduled to open on September 1.
The new Tiverton casino is a major location upgrade.
Newport is known for its beaches and not much else. So not only is the Newport Grand located on an otherwise out of the way island in southern Rhode Island, but during the summer months you’re fighting beach traffic to get there. And good luck finding a reasonably priced hotel.
On the other hand, Tiverton is located near the Massachusetts border (about a 30-minute drive north of Newport), and a short drive from some solid population centers in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Twin River Tiverton will also have more gaming options (Newport residents voted against adding table games to Newport Grand multiple times) and more amenities, not to mention a brand new facility.
|Newport Grand||Twin River Tiverton|
|Table Games||-||32 + 18 stadium gaming|
|Dining||Café express food-to-go||2 Restaurants + a food court|
The land-based shakeup is occurring on a parallel track with the spread of sports betting across New England, and the nation.
Rhode Island legalized sports betting at casino locations this year. Sportsbooks will be added to the racebooks at both Twin River casino locations in the future. Interestingly, Twin River merged with Dover Downs in Delaware, where the first legal post-PASPA sports bet was placed outside of Nevada.
Connecticut passed legislation to do the same, but the consensus is the state will need to pass additional legislation before sports betting will become a reality in the Nutmeg State.
Massachusetts is trailing behind its southern neighbors, but it hasn’t been silent on sports betting. The state is officially studying sports betting, and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission released a sports betting white paper earlier this year.
And don’t lose sight of the fact that MGM is one of the biggest sports betting proponents in the gaming industry.
Nor is sports betting isn’t the only gaming expansion MGM supports.
MGM is also a strong supporter of legal online gambling.
Massachusetts has been discussing online casino expansion for several years (it put any further talk on hold until the state’s casinos were up and running). Online gambling quickly became a hot topic in Connecticut, as both CT casinos lobbied the legislature to legalize online gaming alongside sports betting.
As casino competition heats up (particularly near the borders) it would be wise for all three states to get the online poker/casino ball rolling.
Customers living near the border will soon have land-based casino choices in multiple states. Some might choose a casino in their home state. Others might choose the newest, prettiest property. Still others might choose the closest casino, even if it’s in another state.
Online could help keep people from choosing option two or three, since online casino players can only play at online sites from the state they’re located in.
As such, casinos can entice their online customers to visit their property by linking online and land-based reward programs.