Foxwoods Casino Betting on Campers, Unveils RV Resort Plan

Posted on: October 18, 2021, 01:52h. 

Last updated on: October 18, 2021, 10:57h.

Foxwoods Resort Casino wants to further expand its entertainment and business complex in Mashantucket, Ct., by way of a sprawling recreational campground.

Foxwoods Casino RV campground
A 2015 photograph shows the Foxwoods Resort Casino RV parking lot. The tribal resort is seeking township approval to build a campground complex on land near its sprawling casino. (Image: Road Lens)

Foxwoods recently announced its plans to construct a high-end, resort-like campground with Blue Water Development (BWD), a Maryland-based hospitality developer that specializes in campground management. Mashantucket Pequot communication reps tell that the envisioned project will be family-oriented.

The project is targeting land owned by the tribe at Avery Pond, located along Route 2 in the town of Preston. Foxwoods and BWD last week submitted plans for the recreational campground to township officials.

The campground, if approved, would include a variety of camping sites, a pool complex with waterslide and splash pads, tennis and volleyball courts, pavilions, and a camp store. The area would be serviced with utilities, including water, electricity, and bathrooms.

Foxwoods’ campground resort proposal will next be considered this week at a Preston Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission meeting.

Foxwoods is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, one of two federally recognized tribes in Connecticut. The other is the Mohegan Tribe, which owns and operates Mohegan Sun.

Keeping Gamblers Put

Connecticut’s two Native American casino resorts suffered greatly during the pandemic.

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun both voluntarily shuttered their operations during the height of COVID-19. Once they reopened, they did so with numerous ongoing safety measures in place.

Business resort-wide at both locations was poor. Net revenue for the two tribal casinos was down more than a half-billion dollars in their 2020 fiscal years, compared with 2019. Net revenue includes all resort revenue, including gaming.

The tribes share 25 percent of their slot machine win with the state. They retain all of their gaming revenue derived from table games.

Foxwoods and Mohegan will be better equipped to handle a pandemic in the future. The two land-based casinos are in the process of rolling out their online casinos and mobile sportsbooks. While that will allow anyone inside Connecticut to gamble remotely online without the necessity of traveling to the remote tribal casinos, it also presents concerns that fewer retail bettors will patronize the brick-and-mortar resorts.

Foxwoods’ campground resort, however, could bring a new demo to the Connecticut property.

Visitors who camp, visit for an extended stay,” explained Tony Sheridan, president of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. “For many years, our tourism efforts have focused on encouraging visitors to go beyond a one-day engagement.

“These travelers stay up to 3.5 days. For the greater Mystic region, this means a quality consumer — one interested in staying and exploring — while spending more time and more dollars, locally,” he continued.

Demo Growing

The camping industry fared better than most during the pandemic. Recreational vehicles (RVs) are selling at a record pace, with more than a half-million new RVs expected to be sold by the end of 2021.

The RV Industry Association (RVIA) is forecasting that more than 600,000 new units will be sold in 2022. The association adds that RV ownership has increased 62 percent over the last 20 years, and today there are a record 11.2 million households owning an RV.

The RVIA further explains that the typical RV owner is 48 years old, married, and has an above-average annual household income of $62,000. RV owners are likely to own their homes and spend an average of three to four weeks each year traveling.

Foxwoods is hoping to become a premier destination for RV families. While the casino currently has a small RV parking area, online reviews report many complaints regarding noisy generators and idling buses. There is also no water, electric, or sewer services.