|By Jay Fitzgerald, Boston
HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jul. 8, 2009--The Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos are raising the stakes should Massachusetts ever enter the resort casino business.
The two rival casinos, located only seven miles apart in southeast Connecticut, are banding together to launch a joint ad campaign in New Jersey and New York to lure gamblers to their Nutmeg State operations.
The first-ever coordinated campaign between the two casinos may extend to other business areas in the future, some sources predicted.
The alliance, in the short-term, is aimed at boosting business at a time when the recession is battering the bottom lines of casino operations across the country. The joint ad venture is also aimed at luring business from New York and Atlantic City, N.J., whose casinos are considered a major threat to the two tribal-sponsored gambling facilities in Connecticut.
But Clyde Barrow, a gambling expert with the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, said Foxwoods and Mohegan seem determined to create a national and even international resort "destination place," similar to Las Vegas, and see their futures as regionally linked.
"It puts more pressure on Massachusetts," said Barrow. "This is a pre-emptive move. They're positioning themselves to capture (post-recession) growth."
Richard Young, president of Casino Free Mass, rejected the idea that there's now more pressure on Massachusetts to approve expanded gambling here.
The alliance between Foxwoods and Mohegan shows they're financially ailing -- and that promises of a potential financial windfall from expanded gambling in the Bay State are overblown, he said.
The Massachusetts Legislature has rejected Gov. Deval Patrick's call for new resort casinos. But the proposal's main opponent, Sal DiMasi, is no long speaker of the House, while his successor, Robert DeLeo, has expressed support for expanded gambling.
The Foxwoods-Mohegan ad campaign is starting off modestly, focusing on billboards and online ads.
But Michael Speller, president of Foxwoods, said the two casinos haven't ruled out further ventures together. He called the ad campaign the "first piece" of a possibly more in-depth relationship.
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