Making the News

Boston Globe

Originally Published:Thursday, July 9, 2009

Casinos team up for ad campaign
Connecticut resorts take on Atlantic City

By Katie Johnston Chase
Boston Globe

Competing casinos Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are teaming up to take on a gambling giant: Atlantic City.

The two Connecticut resorts launched a billboard ad campaign on Monday aimed squarely at the New Jersey hot spot, home to 11 casinos: "Two worlds beat one City,'' one reads. "Escape the Jersey snore,'' states another. There are seven billboards in all, located in northern New Jersey and Long Island, N.Y.

The partnership marks the first time the two casinos, located 7 miles apart, on either side of the Thames River in the southeast part of the state, have joined forces. "It just seemed like something whose time has come,'' said Mitchell Etess, president of Mohegan Sun.

Business has dropped at both casinos - down 7 percent at Mohegan Sun and 14 percent at Foxwoods in May compared with last May (though numbers were high at Foxwoods in May 2008 because of the opening of the MGM Grand). But both reported that May was their best month of 2009.

"Certainly it behooves us to do everything we can to bring more business to southeast Connecticut,'' said Michael Speller, president of Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprises, which operates Foxwoods.

The billboard campaign will run until the end of September, when the casinos will evaluate the response and talk about expanding the joint advertising venture. The campaign also includes a sweepstakes to win a joint getaway at the resorts.

In the gambling world, it's not uncommon for casinos to work together. "If you look at how Las Vegas markets itself, the Vegas market drives people to the market itself and people self-select from there,'' Speller said.

But it is a new strategy for the rival Connecticut resorts. In fact, Spectrum Gaming Group, a research firm based in New Jersey, noted the two casinos' fragmented marketing programs in a recent report. "You can't even get by bus from one casino to another,'' said Michael Diamond, Spectrum's vice president of research.

The teamwork only goes so far, of course. "Get people up here and let the best man win,'' is how Mohegan's Etess describes the campaign. "The cooperation stops as soon as the people cross the border,'' he said, "and then the hand-to-hand combat begins again.''

Katie Johnston Chase can be reached at


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