Follow the Yellow Brick road. A brief history of MGM in the Northeast

It is officially autumn here in New England. The time of year where we experience more tourists than other seasons. Travelers arriving from all over the world to enjoy the bright colors of fall. It’s a time to be thankful here in western Massachusetts. As the sun’s trajectory tracks lower with the calendar it illuminates our surroundings in a favorable golden light.  As a young person growing up pre-cable I remember sitting on the living room floor content watching the Wizard of Oz on our color console TV.   I have always loved a good story.  In a way I feel like we the citizens of the Northeast are a bit like Dorothy and her new friends.  Members of communities from Maryland to Massachusetts and beyond all together on our own individual quests.  Where will following the MGM Yellow Brick road lead us?  Are we almost at the Emerald City ? Is the Wizard really all great and powerful?  Or is it just a man behind the curtain?  In order to try to understand where the path could lead next I think it’s important recall how we all got here.  Today MGM has its own story in the Northeast.  In fact the group has had it’s fair share of twists, turns, and triumphs.

 

 

  1. MGM and Foxwoods entered into an agreement for licensing and the right to utilize the Lion head in branding for their new $700 million dollar 825 room hotel tower and casino.  Celebrity restaurants, the Shrine night club and a 4000 seat theater all brought a new Vegas style experience to New England.  At the time the agreement mutually benefited both parties.  Foxwoods wanted to bring a new Las Vegas style casino resort to their already successful 2 casinos. MGM wanted to increase their brand recognition to the East Coast gaming market.

 

May 2008. MGM Grand at Foxwoods opens.

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MGM at Foxwoods.

 

December 2013. MGM announces interest both in Springfield Massachusetts and Oxon Hill Maryland National Harbor as possible locations for commercial casino gaming licenses.

 

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MGM National Harbor.

October 2014. MGM International and Mashantucket Pequot end licensing agreement at Foxwoods.   April 2014. official name change on tower from MGM to Fox Tower.

 

 

August 2015. MGM sues state of Connecticut and Governor Dannel Malloy for giving the CT Tribes preferential treatment .  In an MGM statement “Clear recognition of the tribes trying insistent efforts to obtain a no-bid commercial casino license”.

 

September 2015.  MGM announces plan change reducing its development in Springfield.  The original plan to include a 25 story glass tower hotel and 54 market rate housing units on property was scrapped.  In its place a six story 255 room boutique hotel to be built in the location where the market rate housing units were to be developed. There were also reductions to the convention and meeting space, bowling alleys, and movie theaters. Total reported project footprint reduction under 14%.

 

 

June 2016. MGM buys controlling shares in the Borgota Atlantic City from Boyd gaming. The property at the time could arguably be the most popular destination in Atlantic City with a large loyal player roster.

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Photo Credit: Tony Kurdzul The Star Ledger.

December 2016. MGM opens it’s $1.4 billion dollar National Harbor in Oxon Hill Maryland. Featuring a 135,000 square-foot gaming floor, 308 glass tower hotel and a 3000 seat theater.

 

September 2017. MGM announces plans for Bridgeport Connecticut. A $675 million complex to be built in the Steele Point Harbor section of the city. Project to include a 300 room glass tower hotel. 2000 slot machines and 160 table games. To be accompanied by a 700 seat theater, retail shops. and restaurants.

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November 2017. The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes together along with Connecticut governor Daniel Malloy files federal lawsuit to force amendment to IGRA to allow tribal casino on non-tribal lands.

 

April 2018. MGM liquidates it’s Illinois Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin 40 miles outside Chicago. A property that they acquired in 2005 along with Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The purchaser El Dorado Resorts Int. Pays MGM $327.5 million in cash for the property. The casino consists of 30 table games and just over a 1000 slot machines.

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Grand Victoria Casino.

 

August 2018 MGM Springfield opens in Western Massachusetts. The property sees over 150,000 visitors in the first three days and nets over 9.5 million in gaming profits in the first week. The casino obtains permanent gaming license from state commission with and first month.

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MGM Grand Opening Aug 24,2018. Photo credit: Don Treeger the Springfield Republican

 

October 2018. Federal judge Rudolph Contreras rules in favor of MGM and throws out lawsuit by Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes.  Stating that “State courts cannot compel the US Department of the Interior to support what it does not want”.  There will be no amendment of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in the near future. Which is now blocking the joint project of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes to build a smoking allowed casino on non-tribal land in East Windsor Connecticut 12 miles south of the new non smoking MGM Springfield.  The property would have 100,000 square-foot gaming floor with 2000 slot machines and anywhere between 50 and 150 table games.  MGM International reportedly spent $3.8 million lobbying both in the state of Connecticut and Washington DC for two years.  An amount three times higher than any other interest group in Connecticut.

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East Windsor CT Casino.

 

October 2018. MGM owned Borgata Atlantic City named property of the year at the 2018 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

 

Not a bad decade all in all for MGM.  They are now the leader in Las Vegas.   The company’s vision and commitments are paying off here on the East coast. The Borgata Atlantic City being named Number one property at the GGE is a big deal. The successful opening and first month of operation of MGM Springfield. A one of a kind urban casino integrated into a once blighted downtown neighborhood. The Federal Judges decision that basically blocks the Tribes from achieving the amendment to the IGRA. All huge wins for MGM just to name a few.

 

Where will this story end?  What new surprises maybe were lurking around the corner?  Many more factors will have to play out both locally and globally before we know what is next. The change of Wynn Boston Harbor to Encore Boston Harbor and rumors of the $2.5 billion resort project being for sale. I can only imagine. Will Bridgeport CT’s Steel Point Harbor development move forward?

 

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Globally an activist investor who holds a $500 million cash position is rumored to be forcing the sale of MGM’s interest in Macau China. MGM Macau and MGM Cotai. What does all this mean for the future? How will Springfield, National Harbor and Bridgeport CT play a role in MGM’s next move?  I can’t say for sure but I for one hope they are here for a long time to come.  I’m enjoying this trip with you down the yellow brick road.  Now if only the Wizard would grant me a hand pay.  Thank you for reading. Please leave me a comment and tell me what you think.

To all my friends and players, have Great Luck!

 

 

 

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