As a New Englander, it’s been an interesting past few years, as Massachusetts became the latest state to rev up its gaming options. Starting with a slot parlor at Plainridge Park, two more casinos have come online since: MGM Springfield, which is part of the Mlife Rewards program, and the Encore Boston Harbor, which is linked to the Wynn/Encore properties in Las Vegas.
MGM Springfield opened first, and is about as close to me as Foxwoods is, so I’ve paid a number of visits to the property since it’s opening nearly 18 months ago. In today’s article, I’ll share my thoughts about the property.
Slot/Video Poker Game Selection
When the casino first opened, it was densely packed, mostly with new slot machines and table games. Over the past 18 months, a slow and steady overhaul of various sections of the slot floor has been occurring, with changes to reduce the gaming density.
That’s shorthand for less games on the floor, but in the process they’ve been righting some wrongs. They had too few video poker machines in the original incarnation, and at this point they have a large video poker section in one corner of the casino, along with a few other machines elsewhere. Unfortunately the video poker is set to Mlife corporate standards, meaning pretty poor pay tables such as 7/5 Jacks or Better (compared to 8/5 or 9/6 at quarters, depending on whether you want comps or not, at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods).
There was a lot of repetition of games at the beginning, which has slowly been unwound as new games and machine types have come out. They’ve been aggressively updating their slot floor, good to see given the age of the property, and they are rolling in new games as they come out. They had Buffalo Gold Revolution machines installed quite quickly, around the same time they were rolling out in Atlantic City, for instance.
Although the floor is pretty broadly leaning towards new games, as would be the expectation for a new slot floor, in a savvy move by MGM they brought in a small, but meaningful amount of old hardware, which allowed them to feature some older, but popular, games, to balance things out a bit. For the most part these came in the form of three reel machines, but there are some video slots like Diamond Queen that also found a place on the floor as a result.
Their gaming floor started very IGT heavy, featuring a very large amount of persistent state games as reviewed here on the site. With the resets those machines have been pruned quite a bit, although it’s not just IGT machines that have been targeted.
The gaming floor wasn’t huge to begin with, but with the pruning of games it’s easy to find yourself exhausted of games you want to play after a couple of hours, especially when busy and the most popular games are constantly in use.
Table Game Selection
Table game conditions today have become more favorable than when they launched. Like Foxwoods and their 3:2 Blackjack promotion, MGM Springfield is now advertising something similar. They’re also advertising a $5 minimum table game availability during the mornings, from 6 a.m. to noon, as part of a promotion called “The Morning Deal.”
That said I saw a wide array of table game limits during my visits; high limit tables were in plentiful supply during many of my visits (which were usually on the weekends). I never saw craps below $10, and it wasn’t unusual to see the craps tables at a $15 minimum on the weekends.
However, as mentioned, they’re getting more aggressive on marketing – $5 Blackjack 24/7, $10 Roulette 24/7, etc. So table conditions have definitely improved since launch. Tables has been a weak spot for MGM since opening, so this is likely their way to work on improving their fortunes there.
Unfortunately December 2019, the latest month of reporting as this article was written, showed a dip in table games, either from implementing these changes or because competitors went first and they’ve had to react accordingly.
Competition tends to be a good thing for players, as they get better rules. Too bad that hasn’t happened on games like Video Poker yet, but that could always change.
Mlife Rewards Program
I’ve written about the downside of Mlife on the East Coast vs. Las Vegas here before, but to summarize:
- You earn tier credits 1/5 as fast in Las Vegas on a normal day. Every time you earn a base point at MGM Springfield you get 2 tier credits. In Vegas it would be 10. There are tier credit multiplier days, but to get the maximum benefit you have to play on the right days (always a weekday, of course) and you have to be a higher tier. To get an actual equivalent you need to be Platinum or Noir, which isn’t easy, and it’s made harder by the slower earnings on the East Coast.
- Comp dollars, on the other hand, seem to accrue faster. The rough math I’ve been able to discern is one comp dollar for every 50 base points earned. That is higher than in Las Vegas, which was (until the obfuscation changes, anyway) one comp dollar for every 100 base points earned. That said, many places make you spend them 2:1 on property, so it ends up working out the same if you spend in Springfield, since you both earn and spend twice as fast. If you save them for other markets like Las Vegas, on the other hand, you can extract maximum value.
- Non-gambling tier credit earnings are similarly lower in Springfield than in Las Vegas. Ultimately it’s just a lot harder to build a tier here.
I have consistently been sent offers here since it opened. The offers, for my level of play, I’d describe as pretty generous. Unlike Foxwoods or Mohegan, generally any free gifts can be claimed on the same day as free play. For the CT casinos, if you have a gift offer they more often than not black out the free play in lieu of that offer.
The free play offers themselves seem generous. Multiple times, I’ve received a bonus offer in my email if my most recent visit showed play above the offer level. I also got bonus freeplay as an Empire City Casino customer when they first converted to Mlife after being purchased.
From that perspective they’re definitely being aggressive.
- The fact that it’s a smoke-free property is very appealing to me. It’s a Massachusetts law, but given the CT casino sections are largely smoker friendly, it’s definitely something that is a positive to me.
- I’ve tried a couple of their food options and have enjoyed them. I really like the TAP Sports Bar, which is a brand they’ve also launched other places, such as MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The service there has been consistently excellent. The food court choices are solid too – not subpar licensed fast food options, but something a bit better envisioned.
- They have self-service water, soda and coffee options available, along with the standard service from cocktail servers. I do love that whenever I want a drink I can walk a few feet and get one. Plainridge Park has this too; the CT casinos would benefit from this sort of thing.
- The cocktail service early on seemed a bit infrequent, but as of late I’ve seen/heard them around much more often.
- Despite the news reporting that the property is missing expected targets, when I’ve visited it’s seemed pretty busy.
There’s plenty to like about MGM Springfield and I like it’s linked to the national Mlife Rewards program. I don’t like they skimp on tier credit earning but as long as the offers are good and the gaming conditions are good enough, I’ll be keeping it in the mix of places I visit in New England.