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Massachusetts’ First Casino Plays High-Tech Hand

Plainridge Park Casino puts technology first, rakes in $6.1 million in the first week.>

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It took a long time for Massachusetts voters to approve the idea of bringing a casino to the Bay State, but since they did so, everyone has been wondering how it would go and how much of a dent the new offering could have on those in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

The early returns at Plainridge Park Casino have been overwhelmingly positive, with the Plainville, Mass., facility bringing in more than $6.1 million in the first week or so in business after it opened June 24. Maybe Plainride Park’s early success—and embrace of technology—will serve as a model as Massachusetts prepares for similar facilities in Everett and Springfield in the next few years.

Plainridge Park Casino is home to what some call “the most technologically advanced slot machines,” according to The Boston Globe, as touch screens and loyalty cards have replaced the traditional buckets of quarters that are slowly being phased out at Connecticut, Atlantic City and Sin City casinos too.

And you won’t find black jack dealers but that doesn’t mean you can’t play a hand or two of your favorite table-style games. Virtual dealers—females wearing low-cut tops to entice a large swath of the intended demographic—ask you if you’d like to play a hand or two as you walk by or from across the hall. Meanwhile, Plainridge’s roulette machine spits a real ball into a spinning enclosed chamber, and an invisible hand rakes away the virtual chips.

Photos: Inside Massachusetts’ First Casino

It might not be exactly what some of the septuagenarian and octogenarians expected when they shifted their focus away from Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, but its success in the early going is hard to question.

Plainridge officials say they hope to collect almost $500 a day on each of its 1,500 slot and video blackjack machines within 12 months of opening. The loyalty rewards card allows gamblers to earn points for drinks, meals, or free play at its machines.

Interestingly, Plainridge Park is also incorporating more low-tech solutions, such as a kiosk where live advisers counsel problem gamblers 16 hours a day and maintain a list of gamblers who decide to exclude themselves from the casino for as long as they choose. This is the first such offering in the U.S.

By September, Plainridge Park will have a system that allows gamblers to set a limit on their spending on any session, and to get an electronic reminder when they have hit that limit, another first in the country.

Mohegan Sun, meanwhile, recently launched interactive touchscreen games on bus shelters across Boston that allow participants to possibly win a variety of prizes, including an overnight stay at the casino, according to an announcement from creative technology and production company Grand Visual.

The touch screens feature a “Tap Here” button that calls to passers-by promising that “Anything can happen.” People who tap in could instantly win an overnight stay or play a variety of interactive touchscreen games.

“What this campaign is able to demonstrate, through the interactive bus shelters and the live experiential event, is the fun experienced at Mohegan Sun on a daily basis,” said George Galinsky, senior vice president of marketing communications of Mohegan Sun, in the announcement. “The digital activation is a great way to bring that feeling to life for passers-by as they go about their daily lives.”

The Mohegan Sun campaign was conceived by TAXI NYC and produced by Grand Visual with media planned and booked by C2C Outdoor and Media Storm LLC, delivered on JCDecaux screens in Boston.

The campaign’s goal was driving the people of Boston “to get a taste of all the unlimited possibilities that await them at Mohegan Sun’s flagship property in Connecticut,” the announcement said. The timing certainly lends credence to the idea it was done to draw business away from Plainridge Park as it opened.