The recent expansion flows from a 2011 Massachusetts law — the Expanded Gaming Act. The law authorized the construction of three Las Vegas-style casinos and one slots parlor.
The law also divided the state into three distinct regions — A, B, and C. Each region would receive a single casino. The slots parlor had no geographic restriction.
Plainridge Park Casino
The first property to open to the public was the slots parlor. In 2015, Plainridge Park Casino opened in Plainville, Massachusetts.
The parlor was a wild success from the first day. In its first week of operation, the parlor reported over $60 million in wagering. The frenzy was so intense that cashiers were running out of money.
Since then, Plainridge Park has never reported monthly handle less than $135 million. Monthly revenue at the slots parlor has never slipped below $11.2 million at any point, and it has been well above $13 million since February 2018.
Massachusetts’s Region A, as defined by the Expanded Gaming Act, covers the western third of the state. This portion of the Bay State is the first to receive its single allocated casino.
MGM Springfield opened to the public on Aug. 24, 2018. The $960 million property debuted at its downtown location with a parade and huge crowds.
The property features 2,550 slot machines, 120 table games, a high limit lounge and a 23-table poker room. MGM Springfield also offers five food and beverage establishments and three bars for patrons. They are:
- Cal Mare (with chef Michael Mina)
- The Chandler Steakhouse
- South End Market (with a wide variety of food options)
- TAP Sports Bar
- Commonwealth Bar and Lounge
- The Knox Bar
- Lobby Bar
The attached hotel features 250 rooms where gamblers can relax. However, the focus of this new casino is not on the visiting player.
Rather, MGM Springfield is meant to appeal to local crowds from Springfield and nearby towns. The casino competes directly with the two massive casinos just across the Connecticut border: Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.
The property is also located two blocks from the NBA Hall of Fame. Given MGM’s recent business partnership with the basketball league, the two locations will likely attempt to provide incentives for a joint experience.
It remains to be seen if MGM Springfield will live up to expectations. However, the next casino to open, Encore Boston Harbor, is likely watching to see how it plays out.
Encore Boston Harbor
Encore Boston Harbor is currently under construction in Everett, Massachusetts. The property is scheduled to open its doors in June 2019.
The price tag for the gleaming new property is reportedly around $2.5 billion. In both cost and scope, Encore Boston Harbor will be more than twice the size of MGM Springfield.
The property will feature a 27-story hotel tower and reach almost 300 feet into the sky. Encore Boston Harbor will have 13 restaurants and 671 hotel rooms.
Turmoil surrounds the property
However, the new property in suburban Boston has already weathered numerous setbacks and controversy. None of those issues have been more glaring than its association with Steve Wynn.
Encore Boston Harbor began as Wynn Everett in 2015. The casino soon changed its name to the more regionally friendly moniker of Wynn Boston Harbor.
However, the Wynn name became embroiled in controversy after allegations of sexual misconduct began to swirl around its namesake mogul. Though Wynn left the company in early 2018, the unbuilt project chose to disassociate itself from the tarnished name.
At this point, however, the property is starting to look cursed. Even news stories unrelated to the allegations cannot avoid discussion of its founder’s behavior. Wynn Resorts is having to fight a legal claim about the purchase of the land beneath the casino. The construction has even dealt with catching on fire.
So, it’s probably no surprise that Wynn has been in and out of talks to divest itself of the troubled property. Back in May, the company backed away from conversations with rivals MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment regarding selling the project.
Pending the investigation, only time will tell if this casino resort will actually open under the Wynn Resorts umbrella. Regardless, the property is still on schedule to open at its designated time next year.
Region C: No casino yet
Region C is the easternmost portion of Massachusetts. At this point, there is no real development happening for a commercial casino.
The last movement in this part of the state happened in 2015. Rush Street Gaming proposed building a $677 million property at the Brockton Fairgrounds.
However, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission rejected the proposal. The commission said that a Brockton casino would oversaturate the area, due to a separate proposal for a tribal casino in nearby Taunton.
Since then, Rush Street has asked that the commission reconsider its rejection. There is no change, though, and given the progress of the tribal casino construction, it is unlikely there will ever be a casino in Brockton.
Still, state law provides for a commercial casino in the eastern third of the state. Where and when it will appear is likely dependent on the performance of the existing and soon-to-be properties elsewhere in the region.
Tribal Casino: First Light Resort & Casino
A fourth casino location is currently under construction in Massachusetts. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is building First Light Resort & Casino in Taunton.
Due to rights granted to federally-recognized Native American tribes, the Massachusetts-based group is spending $1 billion to put an entire complex into the small eastern Mass. town. The construction is the end result of over three years of legal battles and jockeying to make the plan a reality.
First Light Resort & Casino is scheduled to open sometime in 2018.