The casino gamble
If you’re a state leader or a casino mogul lustily eyeing the gambling licenses up for grabs in Massachusetts, did you smile giddily or break into a cold sweat when reading yesterday’s New York Times Magazine cover story on the rough times at Foxwoods, the Connecticut mega-casino whose lunch we are supposed to be preparing to eat?
Probably a little bit of both. Foxwoods’s troubles have come in part from increased competition — from things like the new slots at Aqueduct racetrack in New York and the huge expansion of gambling in Pennsylvania. Massachusetts is now poised to join in the feeding frenzy that is “cannibalizing” Foxwoods customers. That prospect can bring smiles here. The sweat beads come from the realization that the current woes at Foxwoods are likely to be the future problems of Massachusetts casinos, as New Hampshire, New York, and other states look to get in on more of the gambling action.
The story, which details the $2.3 billion in debt that Foxwoods has amassed, offers some other sobering observations. Today’s casino market is mostly a middle-aged crowd, and the growth of online poker means lots of young people “may never become casino habitues,” writes Michael Sokolove. “So at the same time that brick-and-mortar casinos are proliferating, the demographics may be working against the industry.”
Sokolove says such trends smack “of the despair you hear in the newspaper business over the advanced age of the core customers and the fear that younger people do not like the product enough to replace them.”
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