Connecticut casinos look to draw more customers to their locations by creating new marketing strategies. Among those is the Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods which they broke ground on today.
Foxwoods Casino has finally broken ground on its long-awaited outlet shopping center, part of its strategy to boost business.
The 300,000-square-foot, $115 million facility will connect casino floors at the Grand Pequot Hotel tower and the MGM Grand.
The shopping center will feature around 80 stores, including Coach, Banana Republic and Calvin Klein.
"There are no other outlet centers attached to a casino anyplace in the United States," said Steve Tanger, president of Tanger Outlets, the company partnering with Foxwoods. "We hope to provide fun entertainment for the entire family."
The facility will bring about 400 construction jobs to the area and 900 full- and part-time retail positions once it opens, Tanger said.
The groundbreaking was initially expected in early 2012 but suffered setbacks due to the slow economy.
It comes as Connecticut's two resort-style casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, continue to deal with declining customers and slot revenue. They're also facing increased competition from planned casino expansions in the northeast.
"That's how we're going to combat it, by bringing back amenities that will bring people here aside from just gaming," said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
Besides the outlet mall, Foxwoods is advertising a variety of incentives for customers, including an offer to match other deals from northeast competitors.
The casino is also taking steps to enter the world of online gaming, in hopes of eventually bringing additional customers through the door, Butler said, adding that the site will be rolled out soon.
"You can go online at Foxwoods, you can learn about the games, you can play some of the games, get comfortable and then possibly earn some rewards to bring you back into the property and use those here," he said.
At Mohegan Sun, officials are planning to break ground later this year or early next year on a "Downtown District," which will include shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, said Mitchell Etess, the C.E.O. of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.
They've also added new restaurants and made other upgrades, said Etess.
"The reality is you need to give more and more reasons to visit. Of course, you've got to provide a great experience when they get here but you've got to go a little beyond that nowadays," said Etess.
Both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are hoping to expand into the new Massachusetts casino market as a way to increase profits and minimize competition.
UMass Dartmouth professor, Dr. Clyde Barrow, is an expert on gaming and said the Connecticut casinos wil likely never again earn the profits they once did.
"They peaked out in 2006," Barrow said. "I don't think you'll see those revenue numbers, I'll say in my lifetime."
The outlet center at Foxwoods is expected to open in about 18 months.
Once ground is broken on the Downtown District project at Mohegan Sun, construction will also take around 18 months to complete.