MGM’s Jim Murren would “love to go toe-to-toe” with Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun

mgm-resorts-jim-murrenMGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren says he’s “bemused” by Connecticut’s plan to build small-scale casinos to head off the threat of MGM’s new Massachusetts resort.

Murren made the comments during Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony in Springfield, MA, where MGM’s $800m casino expects to open in 2017. This has the operators of Connecticut’s two tribal casinos – Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods – putting aside their differences to fend off a common enemy. The tribes have proposed building three new casinos, particularly a new small-scale facility along Interstate 91 on the state’s northern border, close to Springfield.

Murren told the Hartford Courant that he’d “love to go toe-to-toe with Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.” Murren said MGM’s “brand-new, luxury resort” on three city blocks in downtown Springfield was more than enough to compete with some “box of slots” on the highway.

Mohegan Tribal Council chairman Kevin ‘Red Eagle’ Brown has since hotly disputed this characterization, saying the tribes’ new casino would be a “first-rate gaming facility” and most definitely not a slot parlor. “That’s one of the myths we’re trying to take out.”

The tale of the tape has MGM Springfield offering 3k slots, 100 table games, VIP rooms and a full slate of non-gaming amenities. The tribes are proposing 1,800 to 2k slots, 50 to 75 table games and some basic food and beverage options.

Studies have suggested that MGM Springfield could draw as much of 30% of its business from Connecticut residents, particularly from the Hartford area. Don’t blame MGM for that, says Murren, blame Connecticut’s comfortable duopoly for failing to “improve the quality of entertainment on the existing resorts.”

MGM Springfield president Michael Mathis said a new tribal casino on I-91 was “certainly something that is important for us to monitor.” But Mathis said the plan was always to “build something compelling that will bring people up past some of those facilities.”

MGM has emerged victorious from its trademark squabble with a Nevada marijuana dispensary wannabe. Last September, MGM sicced its intellectual property lawyers on M’Life Wellness for allegedly piggybacking on MGM’s popular M Life rewards program. MGM was also annoyed by the similarities between its own and the potheads’

On Friday, the parties reached a settlement under which M’Life will call itself something else. M’Life CEO Dan Lutz told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he “wasn’t even aware” of MGM’s reward program. “I’m not a gambler, so…” He’s also not currently a pot dispenser, as M’Life’s license application was rejected in October.