A New Casino In NH Could Give Encore Boston Harbor Competition

Written By Adam Hensley on September 20, 2023
Photo of Encore Boston Harbor, which could be affected by New Hampshire Casino

Another casino is coming to New England. This one will be on the New Hampshire side of the Massachusetts border in Nashua.

It’s a big step for Massachusetts’ neighbor. However, there are questions about how the new casino could impact the existing Encore Boston Harbor.

Encore Boston Harbor is the state’s youngest casino. It opened its doors in June 2019 and has been the most popular of the Massachusetts casinos ever since.

It boasts the highest revenue totals of all three properties within state lines.

However, plans for a nearby New Hampshire casino might dent revenue at Encore Boston Harbor. Here’s a look at some numbers and why the casino might (or might not) take a hit.

New Hampshire’s next casino is incredibly close to Boston

This new casino will take root in the Pheasant Lane Mall. The Nashua planning board voted 4-1 earlier this month to turn the old Sears store into a 169,000-square-foot casino.

Plans call for this casino to be two stories and have more than 1,000 historical horse racing machines. It will have dozens of table games, too.

The casino’s developer still must meet certain benchmarks before moving forward with these plans, even though they’ve been approved. According to WMUR9, the developer must pay for traffic improvements and develop an emergency plan with local police.

Where Massachusetts’ market comes into play is where this casino is located.

Saying it’s on the border is no exaggeration. The whole parking lot of the casino technically is in Massachusetts. That’s even raised some questions as to which law enforcement squads are responsible in that area.

Encore Boston Harbor has highest revenue, handle in MA

Regarding the lifetime numbers of all three casinos in Massachusetts, Encore Boston Harbor has seen the most success.

Since opening its doors in 2019, Encore Boston Harbor saw roughly $16 billion in bets, which resulted in $2.45 billion in gross gaming revenue.

Those numbers look even better than the other two casinos, Plainridge Park Casino and MGM Springfield.

Plainridge Park opened its doors in 2015. Since then, the casino saw about $15.5 billion in bets and $1.19 billion in revenue. MGM Springfield, which opened in 2018, boasts $10.4 billion in bets and $1.16 billion in revenue.

The numbers are eye-opening, considering Encore Boston Harbor is four years younger than Plainridge Park Casino. Encore Boston Harbor essentially doubled MGM Springfield’s lifetime revenue totals, despite being just a year younger.

The monthly numbers back this trend up. In July, Encore Boston Harbor customers accounted for more than half of the state’s total bets and more than doubled MGM Springfield’s casino revenue. Encore Boston Harbor more than quadrupled Plainridge Park Caisno’s revenue that month, too.

Why the Nashua casino could cause issues

The concept of cannibalization within the casino industry is nothing new, and that’s an issue that could arise in this situation.

States nationwide have either denied casinos to be constructed in certain areas or set limits on how many can be built. If certain casinos are thriving in a local economy, new nearby facilities could draw patrons away from the existing ones.

Customers tend to at least give a look to the bright, shiny new thing in town. And in this case, it’s the Nashua casino.

Since it’s so close to Massachusetts, residents in nearby border towns like Lowell might take the shorter ride across state lines and take their business to the new facility.

This new casino isn’t directly next to Encore Boston Harbor, but it’s not far from the Boston gaming market. Depending on traffic, the Pheasant Lane Mall is just 37 miles from Encore Boston Harbor, or about a 40-minute drive.

For customers looking for something to do on their day off, that’s not far at all.

New Hampshire residents have their doubts, though

One of the big selling points of this casino is how it would positively affect Nashua.

The city’s chamber of commerce indicated that the other two casinos in Nashua that were created by the same developer (The River and the Lucky Moose) totaled $1.8 million to local charities last year. So, in theory, another casino would add to that total and help give back to Nashua.

New Hampshire residents aren’t totally on board with the concept, though.

After all, this casino is going to be in a mall. Many question if this is the right location for something like a casino.

“It seems to me that an adult entertainment center into one of the five big box stores, the vacant Sears store, is way out of character with the master plan and I think it’s way out of character with the mall, which a family-friendly shopping center,” one New Hampshire resident told WMUR9.

Updates, location should help Encore Boston Harbor

What the casino has going for it is that it has the most options for players of any operation within the state.

Encore Boston Harbor boasts 2,700 slot machines. MGM Springfield has the second most with 1,500 machines. Encore Boston Harbor also has 185 table games and 24 poker tables. That’s 65 more table games and 10 more poker tables than MGM Springfield.

Massachusetts’ largest casino does have plans to expand its facilities, too.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved plans earlier this year that would create 20,000 square feet for restaurant space, a dedicated poker room, an additional sports betting spot and a live entertainment venue, among other things.

Should Encore Boston Harbor get nervous of this new New Hampshire casino drawing in some of its customers, it needs to give people a reason to keep coming back. Because eventually, it won’t be the newest casino in the area. But these updates will certainly give it an edge.

Lastly, being close to Boston will always give Encore Boston Harbor the upper hand. It’s a great location and easily accessible within one of the nation’s largest cities.

It’s not out of this world to imagine a scenario where Encore Boston Harbor’s numbers dip ever so slightly at a monthly level once the Nashua casino eventually opens. But the casino’s health isn’t in jeopardy in the long term.

Photo by AP Photo / Steven Senne
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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