Once one of the New England region’s most talked about and attractive casinos, but is nothing like Vegas. Now to add to the less than acceptable service levels reported by recent guests, the Foxwoods casino is now scheduling early closing hours coupled with the beginning of staff layoffs. Foxwoods, located in the lower part of Massachusetts in Mashantucket, is a combination casino-hotel-retail complex with casinos lined up alongside restaurants, movie theaters, and various retail stores. It is a lot like a small city with a concentration on making money. What is happening here could be snapshot of the future of gambling projects in the New England area.
The Boston Globe’s web site, Boston.com reports that the Foxwoods casino is planning a reduction of gaming hours in the Foxwood’s Rainmaker casino area, and rumors of employee layoffs continue. Some say this is a seasonal adjustment as even Las Vegas casinos will shut down portions of its casinos during the slow times of the year. But Massachusetts is not Las Vegas, and Foxwoods is one of a very few casinos in the area making the decision have a larger impact on the local residents and economy.
The current problems are a continuing story of a once favored casino in decline. Over the last several years, Foxwoods has made the news in a less than flattering way. There is the issue of a continuing refinancing going on to keep the huge complex financially viable. Other reports have tales of in-fighting at the upper levels of management, while others claim the complex is simply being mismanaged.
Regardless of whether these past issues are impacting the bottom line, the bigger issue seems to be the expansion of state casinos, present and future, that is drawing players away to venues that are closer and offer higher rewards. Massachusetts is beginning to settle its political wrangling and begin actual forward movement of casino construction. New York is adding more state casinos to the already public pool of popular gaming locations. As nearby states offer more accessible options with problem-free management, the more the losses at Foxwoods are likely to pile up.
Having been a one-time Foxwoods player, there are some personal insights I can offer that may help with defining the problem.
At one time, Foxwoods was one of the few places that you could go for a weekend of gaming fun and still have room for entertainment and relaxation. But its location now becomes a critical issue. According to their website, they are an hour and 45 minutes from Boston, 2 and a half hours from New York. New York players now have a growing number of casinos to choose from, without the near 3 hour drive. Boston, while still interfering with the awarding of a casino license to nearby Revere, will have its residents traveling maybe 30 minutes instead of more than 90.
2. Playing Conditions
The overall cleanliness at Foxwoods was near awful at times. There was not enough maintenance personnel to keep up with the mess that thousands create, particularly in the smoking sections. Carpets were dirty and the general playing area needed help. Taking some disposable towelettes was more than a good idea.
3. Not Worth the Trip
Going to there for the first time, you should be filled with both excitement and anticipation. It is not winning that is the point here, but the experience, and that is where it falls short lately. Any seasoned casino player knows you don’t win every time, and some casinos are simply luckier for you than others. With Foxwoods, the trip loses its appeal after the initial visit because unless you are an early morning (meaning 2 a.m.) player getting on the most popular slots is near impossible. The reason for this is they have decided to create such a variety of slot machines that only a few can play on the most popular slots. If you are not one of the “chosen” you may feel like it is a regular trip .
It seems that Foxwoods has overplayed its hand, and the time to pay the banker has arrived. Time will tell if Foxwoods can make the adjustments to compete with the upcoming Massachusetts casinos, but its history seems to indicate it is on a permanent decline. Its inability to keep the revenues flowing without competition is one of the biggest historical reasons. But the problems are also in the overall operations, from maintenance to management. Not everything will be able to be fixed at once.
An attempt to expand to an online casino is underway, but the message visitors to the website get is the site is currently undergoing maintenance. How an online site will keep their casino-retail complex going is a question not easily answered. In fact, the attempted opening of online gaming may be an admission they are losing the long-term battle to the nearby state casinos. There is only so much playing money to go around, and Foxwoods is too far and too mismanaged to attract either new players or provide an incentive for current and former travelers to buy in to.