Twin River Casino has not taken the prospect of casinos coming to Massachusetts lightly, adding table games in Lincoln in July to help stem competition in the Northeast.
Table games are not the only tool in the operator’s arsenal, although at $18 million in revenue generated in the first three months of operation, according to the R.I. Department of Revenue’s Office of Revenue Analysis, success has exceeded expectations, says John E. Taylor Jr., chairman of the board of Twin River Worldwide Holdings.
But with slot and resort casino projects seemingly moving forward in the Bay State, Twin River operators are fighting to define their market – honing in on the casino’s identity as a “convenience casino” dedicated to marketing locally – meaning Rhode Island, nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut.
“Convenience casino” is a term applied in a 2011 report by the Innovation Group on the impact of Massachusetts gaming. The concept is straightforward: cater to those customers who are closest and who don’t need a hotel on the property to take advantage of casino offerings, Taylor said.
“At this point, we’re very focused on staying true to our ‘convenience casino’ roots,” said Taylor, “which is a competitive advantage. It’s easy for people to get to us and we’ve been able to leverage that.”
Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business Magazine in Henderson, Nev., said any impact from new resort casinos over the next three years or so will likely be offset by the model Taylor describes.
“Twin River got a big head start by launching table games,” Gros said. “Now, they’re developing a full-casino clientele. What’s going to happen is, they’re developing a nice, little 50-mile radius market and this is a model that we see in Pennsylvania. They have a market within 50 miles of their casino and they don’t really care what happens beyond that.”
Still, that doesn’t mean operators and community supporters at Twin River and Newport Grand aren’t thinking about how to counter future developments in gaming in New England, should they occur.
After voters weighed in on Nov. 5, resort-casino projects left standing in Eastern Massachusetts include the Crossroads Massachusetts LLC proposal in Milford, in which Connecticut tribal gaming competitor Foxwoods Casino Resort is a partner, and Wynn MA LLC, in Everett, Mass., Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn’s proposal. Also in the mix is the Suffolk Downs proposal, which was rejected in East Boston but approved in neighboring Revere. Suffolk Downs is reportedly trying to shift its plans to an alternative proposal in Revere.