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The Big Gamble: How Many Casinos is Enough?

SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — Those across western Mass. trying to get rich quick have headed south to Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods Casinos since the mid 1990’s.

“There is certainly a market in Massachusetts or we wouldn’t have been interested in pursuing the license here,” Mohegan Vice-President of Corporate Development Paul Brody said.

Brody says about a billion dollars in gaming money leaves Massachusetts every year, but is that enough to sustain business across the region?

In addition to the Connecticut sites, Massachusetts has approved three casinos and a slots parlor, Rhode Island just last week approved gaming tables at one of their two casinos, and there’s other potential gaming sites coming to New York State.

“The market in general will adjust to the amount of supply that’s needed for the amount of demand,” Brody said.

Included in the shifted demand is northern New England. We found casino goers from New Hampshire at Mohegan who said they’d switch gambling allegiances to a western Massachusetts site.

“A lot of us would go there because it is quite a bit closer than coming down here,” Val Hemingway of Newport, NH said.

“I think I would. It’s closer to where we live, for sure,” Nicholas Koloski of Claremont, NH said. “We kind of split the trip sometimes between Foxwoods or over here at Mohegan but yeah that is closer to home.”

Pittsburgh has had a casino for four years. Much like Massachusetts is expected to have, The Rivers faces competition from a number of casinos in the area. They say that to keep gamblers in the seats, they have to get creative.

“As Ohio’s opened up, we’ve been flexible in changing our marketing programs and our strategies,” General Manager Craig Clark said. “There’s many years of growth ahead of us.”

In total there’s 11 Pennsylvania gaming sites and four new casinos in Ohio. The last one in Cincinnati is an urban casino set to open this spring. Cincinnati Vice-Mayor Roxanne Qualls says competition is always a good thing because it forces each casino to be better but not necessarily bigger than the rest. She says quality is key.

“If it’s simply a casino that looks like every other casino, acts like every other casino, feels like every other casino. Why would you (go there?) There’s nothing unique about it. This is very unique. It serves an urban population,” Qualls said.

Coming up Tuesday at 6pm, we look at all those promises that casino developers make. We’ll explain what positive impacts casino have made on cities and what could have been done better.

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