How many casinos are too many? That's just one of the questions people in Massachusetts have been asking lately as the state embarks on its new journey into the world of casino gambling.
Another question worth asking: what can Massachusetts learn from other states that have been in the game for a long time? Connecticut provides a telling example. In 1992, the Mashantucket Pequot Indians opened Foxwoods — the largest casino in the Western Hemisphere — in Ledyard, Connecticut. With 10,000 employees, 6,300 slot machines, bars, restaurants and theaters, Foxwoods is bigger than the Pentagon — and takes in more than a half-billion dollars a year. But the Pequots misjudged the market. According to a recent New York Times magazine piece, Foxwoods is now fighting for its fiscal life: drowning in more than $2 billion of debt.
Some of that has to do with a particular set of very bad business decisions — and with competition from the Mohegan Sun, the state's other Indian casino. But as the Times points out, it's part of a much larger story — about "the gradual relaxation of... prohibitions against gambling, a desperate search for new revenue by state governments and the proliferation of new casinos across America." And coming soon, across the New England.
So, what can Foxwoods teach the good people of Massachusetts about the world of casinos?
- Colin McEnroe, host of "The Colin McEnroe Show" on WNPR and writer for "To Wit"
This segment aired on June 18, 2012.