Encore Boston Harbor Pilfers Employees From MGM Springfield as Massachusetts Casino Rivalry Intensifies

Posted on: September 27, 2019, 02:53h. 

Last updated on: September 27, 2019, 05:53h.

Encore Boston Harbor has been open just over three months, but the Everett, Mass. casino is already squeezing New England rivals. For MGM Springfield, the first integrated resort in the Commonwealth, the Wynn property’s grip is particularly tight because the new casino isn’t just pilfering customers. It’s luring workers, too.

MGM Springfield isn’t just losing customers to Encore Boston Harbor. It’s losing workers to the Wynn property, too. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

At the end of June, there were 2,054 staffers at MGM Springfield, including 1,563 in full time roles, according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). But that 2,054 tally was down about 250 from the end of the first quarter. Some of that attrition is attributed to the June 23 opening of Encore Boston Harbor.

They got more aggressive with offering our folks opportunities,” said MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis in an interview with WAMC Northeast Public Radio. “Some of this (the employment decline), I feel like, is a one-time hit because of Encore that we are trying to recover from.”

When it opened in August 2018, it was expected that MGM Springfield would create 2,500 or more jobs. Some of the venue’s lower headcount can be traced to revenue struggles that prompted layoffs there through the operator’s MGM 2020 cost-cutting initiative.

MGM’s first New England property was projected to post first-year gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $418 million. But as of Sept. 17, it looked like the company would be $144.2 million short of that forecast.

Winners And Losers

News of MGM Springfield losing employees to Encore Boston Harbor comes just days after executives at the Wynn property confirmed the venue is close to being fully staffed. Before it opened on June 23, the Everett casino was expected to generate 5,000 jobs. As of Sept. 21, it was already close to that number, with another 220 workers close to being added to the payroll. Another 64 positions have yet to be filled there.

Assuming some of the workers that have departed the MGM property for the rival Wynn casino live in or around Springfield, they’re making quite a trek to Everett. The shortest route between the two gaming properties is Interstate 90 (I-90), which is a 94.4-mile jaunt taking over two hours and includes tolls, according to Google Maps.

Mathis told WAMC Northeast Public Radio that 2019 employee turnover at MGM Springfield has been 40 percent, which is well above the gaming industry average of 30 percent.

The MGM establishment is the process of on-boarding 120 new staffers. But it has another 125 jobs that need to be filled, most of which are in the integrated resort’s restaurants.

Gauging The Impact

All told, the three Bay State casinos – Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Penn National Gaming’s Plainridge Park Casino (PPC) – employee nearly 10,000 people. That’s below the 15,000 the state envisioned when it approved casino gaming eight years. But competition for labor is fierce in Massachusetts, as the state’s unemployment rate of three percent is well below the national average of 3.7 percent.

In building the Springfield integrated resort, MGM spent $573.3 million on construction, of which nearly $374 million went to companies based in Massachusetts, according to the MGC. More than 4,200 construction jobs were created to build the venue.