Massachusetts’ first resort casino has opened seven years after legalization,
History of gambling in Massachusetts
There is an interesting history when it comes to the gambling scene in the state of Massachusetts, where various forms of gambling are allowed.
Two racetracks, Suffolk Downs and Plainridge Racecourse, currently operate in the state. Pari-mutuel bets are allowed on races held on these tracks. You can also engage in simulcast betting on dog and horse racing at Raynham Park.
This form of betting has been legal since 1934. Over the years, there were many additional tracks, as well as regular races at various agricultural fairs.
There is also a state lottery that offers scratch cards and various draw games. You can purchase pull-tab games at certain bars. Over the years, state lotteries have gone through several iterations. The lottery in its current form has been around since 1971.
Several approved non-profit groups are allowed to use certain gambling activities, such as whist, bridge, bingo, pull tabs, casino nights and raffles, to raise funds. Senior citizens’ support groups can hold bingo games as long as the prizes are worth no more than $100 (£78).
The two Indian tribes, which are recognized on a federal level, have long been pushing the authorities to be able to open their own gambling operations on tribal land.
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe was recognized federally in 2007. It has a casino project in the works known as Project First Light.
The Aquinnah tribe has tried to create its own Class II facility for gaming. The facility would be located on their reservation in an old, disused community center.
The state took legal action to block this proposal, claiming that according to a land settlement in 1983 the tribe gave up their right to offer gambling on their land. As part of the settlement, the tribe agreed to adhere to the state laws of Massachusetts. The tribe, however, countered that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 superseded the 1983 agreement.
In January 2018, the US Supreme Court cleared the way for the tribe to continue their efforts to seek federal approval after a petition to the Supreme Court to hear this case was dismissed.
Commercial casinos were legalized in 2011 following the Expanded Gaming Act. This allowed up to three casino resorts to open, as well as a single parlor for slots. The slots parlor was opened in June 2015 at the Plainridge Park Casino.
Two resort casinos have been in development in recent years: the Encore Boston Harbour casino, which is still in the works; and the MGM Springfield, which has just opened its doors for business. The decision on the allocation of the final license is being delayed as the authorities wait to see what the outcome of the Mashpee casino will be.
Over the years, a variety of casino cruises have also been operating in federal waters.
Opening of the MGM Springfield
August 24, 2018, was a momentous day for the state of Massachusetts as its first resort casino was officially opened.
With 3,000 jobs being created and a lot of investment going into the local economy, it certainly is going to be a positive move for the state going forward.
Tourism figures will inevitably rise, and the state will benefit from the bump in taxation revenues from gambling-related activities.
Almost $1bn (£780m) was invested into the creation of this casino and forecasts place an annual tax intake of around the $100m (£77.85m) mark. Also, it is built on a site which was severely affected by the tornado in 2011.
Part of their offering includes over 2,500 slots and more than 100 gaming tables in addition to an entire poker room. The complex also features a 250-room hotel, a movie theatre, bowling alley and many restaurants and retail outlets.
They celebrated the opening day in true style – the Blue Man Group performed at the press conference, with the MGM Grand dancing group called the Jabbawockeez closing out the show. A mini-parade is scheduled for August 25 along with a concert from the Dropkick Murphy’s with Stevie Wonder also set to perform on September 1.
Talking to the Boston Herald about the long, drawn-out process of finally getting the gaming industry in the state off the ground, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission chairman, Stephen Crosby, said: “After seven long years, I say it’s about time to party.”