With MGM Springfield is once again a City of Firsts. News episode.

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I can’t believe it’s been two episodes since I’ve covered any news and happenings here in Springfield.  I have really enjoyed having Robin as a guest the last two weeks.  Our conversations about casino etiquette and Video Poker are some of my favorites we’ve had so far.  But alas I must keep you all up-to-date on all the news, events, and moves MGM is making here and around the world.

Being so close to Thanksgiving I thought it appropriate to give thinks for the fact that since MGM opened its doors Springfield crime has not seen an increase.  In the first six weeks of operation only 43 people were arrested with 26 criminal summons issues.  Mostly for trespassing and disorderly contact. A few minor drug possession charges and one gun and a chip topping charge.  The fact that stands out the most to me was that some folks were arrested on outstanding warrants at MGM Springfield.  This fact was somewhat buried in the story.  Hmmm outstanding warrants…  So is it safe to assume that criminals are just not welcome at MGM Springfield?  Or rather it’s not safe for active criminals.  I think so and let me tell you I’m completely fine with that.  I found this very interesting because of course the place is equipped with the latest facial recognition software.  And the Massachusetts State Police have barracks on property.  There are many undercover troopers on the casino floor at all times.  When someone signs up for a player’s card they have to identify themselves.  I wonder if people with outstanding warrants who sign up for a M Life card get an automatic free ride to jail?  Police did report an increased amount of car breaks ins on public streets surrounding MGM. They also added they believe the suspect has been arrested and changed a month ago.  All in all I feel safer downtown especially in the South End.  Now we have some numbers to prove it.  So for the time being it looks like the Gaming Enforcement unit along with City and State Police are doing a wonderful job.  We also have a newly established 40 member Metro police unit with a sub station 2 blocks away on Dwight Street just behind the Mass Mutual center.  This is a result of the $13 million being spent annually by the city, state, and MGM Springfield keeping downtown safe.

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Photo credit Don Treeger Springfield Publican

More positive news this week about MGM Springfield and safety. Las Vegas NV. is now looking to Springfield on how to make their city streets safer.  I found this news really refreshing.  I recall when MGM was being built Springfield officials looked into Reno and other cities on how to handle crime and pedestrian traffic.  Now the capital of gambling worldwide is looking at the City of First’s how to keep people safe in a pedestrian rich environment.  Our many police kiosks are of particular interest.  These fully operational temperature controlled, bulletproof glass substations can be found along Main Street. They are maned during high volume times.  And  are always under 24 hour surveillance.  Even if no officer is in you can make a call from outside the substation and know that you are being seen by a police monitor.  They will know exactly where you are and what is going on.  These units would work extremely well in a environment such as old Las Vegas and the Strip.  During grand opening weekend a young 7-8 year-old boy was separated from teenage relatives who were tasked with watching him.  I believe his parents were inside gaming.  This was one of the incidents that prompted MGM’s new under 21 policies.  The boy was lost however he was able to find a police kiosk sub station on the corner of Main and Morris streets.  The officer on duty was able to locate his parents and reunite the family quickly without further incident.  This proof of our community policing model working is one of the driving forces behind Las Vegas seeking advice from Springfield officials.

After the first two months of operation MGM Springfield gave surveys to their hotel guests and higher tier players.  Top brass has also reportedly been monitoring local closed groups on social media.   After listening closely they have made 10 big changes to improve our experience at the Casino!

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Photo credit Don Treeger Springfield Publican

1. Added more cocktail servers on the gaming floor

  1. Improve traffic flow in the parking garage during peak hours of operation.
  2. Doubled the amount of Video Poker machines to a total of 95 on the gaming floor.  New Ultimate X Poker added.  Hooray!
  3. The ever popular Top Dollar slot machine and Wheel of Fortune added to the High Limit room by the Knox Bar. Both betting in 5.10.and 25 dollar denominations.
  4. $10 blackjack and roulette tables added. 2 roulette tables and 6-8 $10 Blackjack tables.
  5. Let it Ride poker and more Casino War games added.
  6. Reduced scooter rental prices from from $50-$35 a day.
  7. Lowered short term valet prices to $6.  under 4 hours.
  8. More logo inventory and cigars available at the essentials store.
  9. Expanded the hours of operation of casual dining restaurants. You could now get something to eat until 11 PMon the weekends at Cal Mar. as well as most other casual places such as Wicked Noodles are open till 1 AMon weekends.  Bill’s dinner is still open till 6 AM.   I love a late night post gambling snack or feast.
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    When you enter the casino through main entrance the South End Market will be on your left.

    The numbers came in for October and MGM Springfield generated over $22 million in gross gaming revenue.  That figure was down by $4.7 million from the first month of operation.  $14 million from slot machines and $7 million in table games.  That gave them a prophet rate of 8.83% for the month compared to 9.55% in September.   So looking at these numbers one could say that the pay structure has recently loosened so to speak favoring the gambler just a little bit more. . I have heard many more reports of hand paid jackpots with slot machines as of late.  Not to mention that $380,000 Jackpot from a couple weeks ago on Blackjack.  It appears that people are starting to win.  A total of $165,684,708  was wagered on slot machines in October. MGM total pay out in October to the state in tax dollars was $5,560,685.60.

    The $960 million MGM has invested into Springfield has generated $58,651,815.60 in total gross gaming revenue.  With a total of $14,662,953 being paid to the state.  MGM stated that they were looking for $418 million per in the first years and able to normalize at $500 million in gross gaming revenue by year 3.  MGM Springfield is a category 1 casino in Massachusetts and is taxed at a rate of 25% of gross gaming revenue.  Under the host agreement with Springfield MGM pays the city $17.6 million per year in leu of taxes which begins this fiscal year.

    Seeing that the grand opening month generated just under $27 million in gross revenue from gaming.  I find it somewhat hard to believe that MGM will be able to generate $500 million annually in gaming revenue. Based on $20 million gaming revenue a month they will see $240 million a year.  Where is the other $250- $260 million coming from?  We saw 150,000 visitors in the first three days of operation.  Does MGM believe that they will have weekends like this all of the time in year three?  How do they anticipate generating this income?

As a comparison Penn National who operates the Plain Ridge slot casino in eastern Plainfield Massachusetts are a category two slot facility. They are taxes on 49% of total gaming revenue.  In October they had a gross gaming revenue of $13,525,989.45.  Out of which they paid Massachusetts taxes  of $6,627,636.80.  I guess MGM being a category 1 casino is much more advantaged tax wise here in the Commonwealth.

With MGM Springfield opening it’s no surprise that both Tribes in Connecticut are reporting slot machine revenues down 10% for the month of October.  Last year October 2017 Mohegan Sun had a slot revenue of $42,600,000.  This October 2018 it was reduced to 38,300,000. Wow $40 million in just slot machines!  That just goes to show you how much larger and how many more machines Mohegan Sun has over MGM Springfield.  Of course a Springfield has to be contributing to their recent slot revenue decline.

The last big peace of their New England casino story is Encore Boston.  When this property opens I believe that the Northeast will be at casino saturation.  Wynn or Encore Boston Harbor promises to be a fabulous resort.  Without question it will serve the highest demographics in New England.  The second highest in the country.  I for one am excited at the product that promises to be offered.  Once opened it’ll be easy to hit a gaming establishment within a 2 Hour drive . from just about anywhere in the Northeast Corridor.  At that point I would expect to see gaming revenues to normalize across the state and region.  Until then we’ll have to just wait and see what happens.  Don’t forget MGM is interested along with Mohegan Sun in a large facility in Bridgeport Connecticut.  Which could dilute the field even more.  Let’s go ahead and check our bets here and hold on anymore casino developments.
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MGM and Caesars have been looking into a possible merger of the two gaming industry giants.  Currently attorneys and staff from Morgan and Stanley have been retained by MGM international to look at the feasibility of this deal.  I’m betting that US Securities and Exchange commission as well as the Federal Trade Commission’s and state gaming regulators across the country will have something to say about this.  These two companies currently represent almost 100% of the properties on the Las Vegas strip.  Imagine if that was all under one corporate umbrella.  As it is they are the two largest casino operators in North America.  Caesar’s alone operate 50 casinos and  resorts here and the US and Canada.  One town besides Las Vegas where this deal could become problematic is Atlantic City.  Caesars already owns Caesar’s Palace and Bally’s on the beach as well as Harrah’s in the Marina.  They liquidated the Showboat resort and casino a few years ago.  As a side note to this story Caesar’s was approached two weeks ago by the owners of the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City for a similar merger which Caesar’s had no appetite for.  MGM acquired the Borgata from Boyd gaming and 2017.  If this merger occurred they would almost monopolize Atlantic City gambling leaving only the Golden nugget, the new Hard Rock, and Oceans on the beach along with the Tropicana as independent operators.

Like one of my good gaming friends said “competition is good for gamblers”.  Having more houses compete for your action brings better comps our away.  Can you imagine the news reports if they had a financial issue?  Casinos that are too big to fail?  And we end up having to bail them out?  This all sounds horrible don’t you think?

There is a lot more to this story.  There is a lot of pieces moving around on the global gaming board currently.  A rogue investment hedge fund group has purchased a lot of shares in both companies and is attempting to force the companies in different directions.  Caesars’ CEO stepped down recently and any company without commander is vulnerable.  The same group is attempting to force MGM to liquidate all of their concerns in Macau China.  So who knows how this could all pan out.  This is one of the more interesting stories of the month for me . At time of press MGM stock was trading at $27.70 and Caesars a trading on the exchange for $9.51.

MGM became the official partner to the NHL for sports betting.  This is huge news as MGM already inked a deal with the NBA to just after the 2017 Supreme Court ruling allowing states to regulate sports betting.  MGM already offers a sports book in New Jersey and Mississippi at their commercial casinos.  The Golden Knights NHL hockey team in Las Vegas will be the first team to offer “In Play Betting” at their arena.  Caesars has a new players club being installed inside of New Jersey’s Prudential Center home of the New Jersey Devils. The nation’s casino operators are betting that sports wagering will bring many new players to the game.  In 2016 Massachusetts gamblers wagered over $680 million in gray market betting utilizing offshore website.  The market for sports book gambling is clearly here in New England.  This was a major topic at the global gaming expo in Las Vegas recently.  Gaming investors are hoping that sports betting will bring millennial’s to the casino as well as many folks who are already seasoned sports betters.  Delaware became the first state to offer Las Vegas style wagering on sports events through there a state run lottery system.  Sports wagering could even be done over a smart phone as long as you are geographically in a legal state.  Both Connecticut and Rhode Island have passed legislation allowing sports gaming.  In fact Rhode Island is days away from legal spots wagering.    This may be the CT Tribes first win over MGM in the months to come.  Massachusetts will have to pass legislation in the 2019 session in order for MGM Springfield to begin to taking sports bet wagers.  Just imagine a sports book in Springfield with exclusive deals with both the NBA and NHL.  given that this is both a Basketball city and Hockey city this could be a huge hit.  I will be sure to keep you all up-to-date on this story as it develops.
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This Friday MGM Springfield opens it’s outdoor ice-skating rink on the Plaza. 1994 silver medal Olympic skater Nancy Karagan will perform at 1:45 PM.  This is followed by a free skate until 10 PM that evening.  Ice-skating will last November 23 through March 3. Monday through Thursday 2 to 9 PM in Friday and Saturday till 10PM.  Skate rentals are five dollars a pair and rates for children or $8. $12 for adults. M Life players card members skate for a discounted rate at eight dollars.

 

This will be a part of an entire day of festivities with the Springfield balloon parade starting at 11 AM and finishing right in front of MGM.  The giant golden lion balloon will float above the plaza all day. And many of the other balloons will be on display on Union Street after the parade.  The 38 foot LED Christmas tree will be lit at 7 PM.  After which Santa Claus will make an appearance to speak with the children and take photographs. This event promises what MGM was talking about over the summer of new traditions.  This will be the first event I bring our seven-year-old daughter too.  I am looking forward to a magical experience with Santa Claus and the rest of our community. I’ll be certain to take lots of photographs and post to the closed group.

 

I can’t believe all of the things that are developing in and around MGM Springfield.  I’ll be sure to keep you guys all up-to-date on all of the important movements.  Thank you all for reading and listening to the podcast.  Be sure to join the fun in our close group and like our page on Facebook.  You can subscribe and listen to the website for free on iTunes or Stitcher.  And of course see all the pictures and signup for updates here on the website.  A special Thank You to Marty and JQ for the terrific reviews on iTunes!  Thanks to you all for reading my friends and players and as always have great luck!

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