Massachusetts Casino Operators Open to Online Gambling

Posted on: March 7, 2017, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: March 7, 2017, 08:56h.

The three Massachusetts casino operators, Penn National, MGM Resorts, and Wynn Resorts, are all ready to embrace online gambling should the state take steps to legalize internet betting.

Massachusetts casino operators Stephen Crosby
Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby is expected to encourage the legalization of internet gambling after Massachusetts casino operators voiced little opposition. (Image: David Ryan/Getty Images)

According to reports out of the Bay State, there was little opposition presented at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s (MGC) recent hearing to discuss online gambling. That came as a slight surprise considering Steve Wynn’s long stance against internet casinos.

Appearing on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, MGC Chairman Stephen Crosby said the gaming regulatory agency might consider recommending to the state legislature that online gambling be passed considering the three land-based operators aren’t necessarily against such legalization.

“I would say by the middle of this year there might be something for the legislature to look at,” Crosby explained. The MGC doesn’t create laws or statutes, but can make suggestions to the Commonwealth.

While the three operators didn’t voice much opposition to online gaming, MGM did opine that only the licensed land-based companies should be able to run an internet casino.

Massachusetts legalized daily fantasy sports a year ago this month. It’s the only form of online gambling that is currently permitted.

Wynn Won Over

Steve Wynn likes to be considered much more than simply a man who runs casinos. The billionaire is all about the customer experience, and his company goes to great lengths to provide luxurious memories at his hotels in Nevada and China.

The absence of the face-to-face interaction has reportedly turned Wynn off, but in Massachusetts, his first domestic casino outside of Las Vegas since selling Mirage Resorts in 2000, he’s apparently willing to step aside.

Wynn Boston Harbor, a $2 billion resort in Everett, Massachusetts, is slated to open on June 3, 2019. MGM is building a $950 million property in Springfield, and is expected to open in September of 2018. Penn National owns and operates Plainridge Park Casino, a slots-only facility that opened in 2015.

Competition Continues

Massachusetts and Connecticut are currently engaged in a not-so-neighborly conflict over gambling.

Under the Bay State’s Expanded Gaming Act passed in 2011, the MGC can approve up to three resort-style casinos and one slots parlor. The Commission has delayed approving a third resort, opting to wait and see where tribal groups in Connecticut will ultimately place an authorized gaming venue off non-sovereign land.

That destination appears to be East Windsor, a short 13 miles south of MGM Springfield. Connecticut lawmakers allowed the Mohegan and Mashantucket tribes to jointly build a third casino to keep gambling revenues in the state instead of flowing north to Springfield.

The northeastern United States has become littered with casinos in recent decades.

Penn National, a Pennsylvania-based regional casino operator, has pleaded with state jurisdictions to offer online gambling to keep their investments competitive. Chris Sheffield, Penn National’s director of iGaming, said in 2015 that allowing the company to offer internet casinos is a “vital tool” to the industry.