With Competition Heating Up, Northeast Casinos Look for Ways to Lure Patrons
A topic that frequently comes up in the world of the casino industry is the increasing competition, especially along the Eastern seaboard of the United States, amongst land-based casinos for patrons. With a proliferation of new properties in recent years and more in the works, many wonder if there are enough gamblers to sustain the existing properties, much less the slew of new ones.
And with gambling-derived revenue down, the casino industry has been searching for ways that it can attract patrons, who now have a much wider variety of properties from which to choose to spend their time and money, by offering new features and amenities meant to get feet walking through the door and hands reaching for wallets.
One answer they’ve found to the question of how to increase traffic? Retail, specifically massive mall space.
Foxwoods teaming up to offer outlet shopping
Foxwoods, a tribal casino comprising six resorts spread over more than 4.5 million square feet of space, has teamed up with North Carolina-based Tanger Outlets, the operator of factory outlet centers in 24 states, to build a new mall that will feature over 80 different retail stores.
The new project, having just broken ground, will be 300,000 square feet in size once it throws open its doors to what the casino hopes will be an eager public.
Speaking to the fact that Foxwoods has seen income from slots and other games decline from pre-recession peaks, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s chairman Rodney Butler, said, “That’s how we’re going to combat it, by bringing back amenities that will bring people here aside from just gaming.”
Though Foxwoods faces competition from other states, its main rival in the state of Connecticut is Mohegan Sun, one of the country’s most sizable casinos. Mohegan Sun is also in the process of expanding its dining, retail and entertainment spaces, with a planned mix-use project they’re calling “Downtown District” slated to open in 2014.
Many wonder what might be up next
With neighboring Massachusetts set to award three licenses for Las Vegas-style casino resorts as well as one slots only parlor at the end of this year, the situation in Connecticut is likely to worsen if the casinos are not successful in their efforts to make their properties more attractive to gamblers and non-gamblers alike, believe some casino industry experts.
In many ways, the move toward shopping and dining follows a predictable pattern of eastern casinos looking to Las Vegas for inspiration. Roughly a decade ago, the proliferation of retail on both the high and low end was a trend that swept the desert.
Nowadays, casinos on the Las Vegas Strip are, like their counterparts in other parts of the country, looking for ways to bring in income that has nothing to do with table games and the latest slot machine, but these days the focus in Nevada is less on clothes and jewelry and more on partying.
As profiled in a fascinating piece in the New Yorker, Las Vegas is currently enjoying a nightclub moment, with world famous DJs like Afrojack and Calvin Harris commanding huge salaries for playing at casino nightclubs where patrons will happily drop thousands of dollars on alcohol.
If history is a predictor of what lies ahead, perhaps the future of New England’s gambling industry holds DJs and nightclubs in addition to trendy boutiques and shoe stores.
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