MGM Springfield Cleans House, New Executives Named to Jumpstart Casino Resort

Posted on: January 22, 2020, 07:53h. 

Last updated on: January 22, 2020, 09:57h.

MGM Springfield has replaced two key executives in hopes of reenergizing the struggling $960 million integrated casino resort.

MGM Springfield casino revenue
MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis is leaving Western Massachusetts. (Image: Greg Saulmon/The Republican)

Property President Michael Mathis is exiting the role after six years. He was named to that position and as chief operating officer in 2014, and oversaw the licensing and construction process of what became a $960 million casino complex in downtown Springfield.

His leadership was instrumental in the successful opening of the property and the great relationships we have built with the Springfield community and our partners in New England,” said MGM Resorts Regional Portfolio President Jorge Perez.

Since opening in August of 2018, MGM Springfield has struggled to come anywhere near its premarket gross gaming revenue (GGR) forecasts. Whether the market is oversaturated, or MGM has failed to attract gamblers to the resort, is a matter of opinion.

Leadership Overhaul

Along with Mathis, vice president and CFO Courtney Wenleder is also departing the resort. Mathis is assuming a new position – senior VP of business development – in MGM Resorts’s Las Vegas corporate office. He will report directly to MGM President Bill Hornbuckle.

There was no word on Wenleder’s future with the casino company.

MGM Springfield is bringing in Chris Kelley, who has served as president and COO of MGM Northfield Park in Ohio near Cleveland. MGM acquired the racino in 2018 for more than $1 billion.

“We are excited to have Chris lead the MGM Springfield team,” Perez said of the change. “Chris’s experience in Ohio, rebranding and integrating a property and introducing MGM to the community will be an asset for Springfield as we continue to work closely with the community and strive to not only be a world-class entertainment destination, but also a good corporate neighbor.”

The last two months have been MGM Springfield’s worst on record. While the MGM casino floor won $19.9 million and $18.9 million, respectively, in November and December, Encore Boston Harbor increased GGR $47 million to $54 million.

Identifying Culprit

Before opening MGM Springfield, the casino operator told the state the property would average around $34.8 million each month in gaming win. The casino has never once hit that mark.

Locals have plenty of opinions as to why. From Springfield allegedly limiting the number of hotel rooms the resort could have, to failing to attract A-list acts to lure out of town guests, there are many critics.

Pure and simple. There is no reason for anyone outside the greater Springfield market to come here, as it’s just an inner-city casino,” one commenter opined. “No shows, no shopping. So, MGM relies on those who live here. And that’s not enough to make their projections.”

MGM Springfield could face further competition in the coming years. Just 13 miles south across the Massachusetts-Connecticut border, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes are planning to build a $300-$400 million casino in East Windsor to keep gaming money in their home state.