Wynn Resorts scored a high-profile victory this week when it won approval from Boston regulators to build a casino there.
But Wynn is far from the only major Las Vegas-based casino company seeking to expand its territory in the United States.
Projects such as Wynn’s come even as domestic gaming struggles in many places outside the Strip. Brent Pirosch, director of gaming consulting at CBRE, wrote in a July gaming revenue analysis that “2014 is still looking fairly weak on a national basis thus far,” with some of the most significant revenue declines in Indiana, West Virginia and Delaware year-over-year.
New casino projects are in various phases, from recently completed to barely more than an idea. They’re popping up throughout the Northeast, fueling an expansion of gaming in that region that is partly to blame for Atlantic City’s woes.
Aside from crowding the East Coast gaming market, new American casinos — Wynn’s Boston project included — are increasingly being built in urban areas.
Pirosch said that for many years, casinos were built largely in smaller or less-fortunate areas, which courted gaming operations as a way to prop up their economies.
Now, big metropolitan areas are increasingly interested in cashing in on the benefits of gaming. The need for revenue has intensified amid the recovery from the recession, and the proliferation of gaming has reduced backlash to casino expansion over moral and ethical concerns.
Will development continue in that direction, though?
“It’s always hard to say because politics are always local, but it feels like it could be that way,” Pirosch said. “If you’re a state government and you’re looking at the best way to maximize tax revenue, then you’re probably going to be looking at your major cities for casinos.”
Here’s an overview of six spots where some of the valley’s big casino companies are (or hope to be) growing beyond Las Vegas.
Wynn — Boston
This project cleared one of its two major obstacles on Tuesday when, after a drawn-out competition with Mohegan Sun, Wynn emerged as the winner of the Boston-area casino license.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted 3-1 to award the license to Wynn’s $1.6 billion project, which seeks to transform a piece of polluted land that used to be a chemical plant site.
The gaming commission’s vote was just one battle the proposed Everett, Mass., casino needed to win, however. Now its fate hinges on whether Massachusetts voters decide in this fall’s election to ban casinos.
Caesars — Baltimore
Caesars Entertainment has already opened another casino this year: the $442 million Horseshoe in Baltimore. The Maryland casino opened in August with 2,500 slot machines and more than 120 table games. It’s the first casino in Baltimore.
Horseshoe’s Maryland opening was a bright spot in a pretty bleak year for Caesars, which closed its Showboat casino in Atlantic City later that same month. The company also continues to deal with issues surrounding its staggering debt load of more than $20 billion.
Caesars — New York
With any luck, Caesars will continue building in the Northeast — this time in New York. The company is seeking approval from the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board to build an $880 million resort and casino in Woodbury, about 50 miles from New York City.
The resort would be built on a 115-acre site and feature 2,560 slot machines, 190 table games, 50 poker tables and 300 hotel rooms. Caesars is competing with several other companies, including Malaysia’s Genting Berhad, for one of four New York casino licenses.
The state’s gaming commission should pick the winners by the end of the year, according to Bloomberg.
MGM — Springfield, Mass.
Massachusetts gaming regulators unanimously agreed to give the state’s first gaming license to MGM Resorts International in June. The company hopes that its $800 million MGM Springfield will "ignite an urban revival," bringing 3,000 slot machines, 75 table games, a 25-story 250-room hotel and 55,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space to the city.
Like Wynn’s proposal in Boston, however, the fate of MGM Springfield hangs in the balance while voters prepare to decide whether their state should allow casinos at all. Polling currently looks good for casino supporters, according to boston.com.
MGM — Prince George’s County, Md.
Even if things don’t work out in Massachusetts, MGM will still have its new property being built in Maryland just outside Washington, D.C. Scheduled to open in 2016, MGM National Harbor is a $925 million project with 3,600 slot machines, 140 table games including poker, a 300-suite hotel, a 1,200-seat theater venue and 35,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Boyd — Sacramento
This one is still a nascent proposal, but Boyd Gaming is working with a Native American tribe on plans to develop a casino near Sacramento, the capital of California. The tribe has identified a 280-acre site south of the city for development — Boyd spokesman David Strow said the casino company and the tribe are still in the “early stages” of the "lengthy process" required to get approval for the casino.
"It’s definitely moving forward," he said, but “there are a lot of steps in that process.”