Foxwoods announces high-stakes casino expansion in Connecticut

Ten years ago this month, the New York Times gloomily declared in headline bold that Foxwoods — the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s Connecticut resort casino which started as a single bingo hall in 1986 — “is fighting for its life.”

Not so fast, hold the obituary.

Today, Foxwoods is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a big birthday cake cutting ceremony and announcements for extensive renovations and a massive expansion.

The biggest news is the addition of Great Wolf Lodge at Mashantucket, an indoor water park, family entertainment center and hotel. Ground breaking is planned for June, with Great Wolf Lodge’s completion scheduled for 2024.“

Foxwoods will become family-friendly on a massive scale,” said Jason Guyot, Foxwoods’ CEO. “It will be on 15 acres adjacent to Foxwoods, not directly a part of Foxwoods. It will be a huge driver of foot traffic.”

(And likely a driver of motor traffic and construction — something derided by many local residents ever since Foxwoods first opened.)

An interior shot of Foxwoods' casino floor.
Foxwoods currently has 340,000 square feet of gaming space with 3,400 slots and 249 table games.
Jordan Probst

Despite a rocky episode a decade ago when it registered over $2 billion in debt, Foxwoods is now the largest resort casino in the Northeast, according to World Casino Directory, beating Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, which has a total casino square footage of 160,000 square feet, 3,000 gaming machines and 186 table games.

In comparison, Foxwoods already has 340,000 square feet of gaming space with 3,400 slots and 249 table games, as well as 54 poker tables and the new High Stakes Bingo Hall, which opens this spring.

A couple zip lines at Foxwoods.
The Foxwoods Extreme Adventure zip line at the casino resort.
Foxwoods Resort Casino

Exterior shot of Foxwoods.
Foxwoods has a 59-store Tanger Outlet Mall.
Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Foxwoods also currently encompasses the 80-store Tanger Outlet Mall; three hotels; around 40 dining venues; two theaters; five event spaces; two spas; the impressive Mashantucket Pequot Museum featuring 85,000 square feet of permanent and visiting family-friendly exhibits; the Lake of Isles golf course; Foxwoods Extreme Adventure zip-line and go-kart track; and the proposed nearby Preston RV Resort, a partnership with Maryland-based Blue Water Development Corp.

Now, this fall, the 75,000-square-foot Rainmaker Expo Center will open for trade shows and live concerts.

“Now, no one in the Northeast, or even in the country can compete with us.”

Jason Guyot, Foxwoods’ CEO

The 24-hour Grand Pequot Casino and Great Cedar Casino, and the Fox Tower Casino and Rainmaker Casino, which close during low-traffic days and times, will undergo redesign; and general renovations to the main entrance, the Fox Tower — formerly the MGM Grand at Foxwoods — and the Great Cedar Tower will roll out over the next couple of years.

“The goal throughout this year is to announce new restaurants and new experiences every month,” said Guyot.

But not everyone is thrilled with the super-sized expansion. 

Recent Preston town meetings highlighted continuing concerns over the negative impact to meadowland, wetlands, and forested areas of the planned development of the nearby Preston RV Resort, a partnership with Maryland-based Blue Water Development Corp. that will include 300 luxury pull-through RV spots, safari tent camping, 30 cabins, and saltwater pool. 

A woman in a robe at a spa
One of Foxwood’s duo of spas as of now.
Foxwoods Casino Resort

But money talks, so nature walks: along with restaurant and hotel taxes, and employment, Foxwoods added more than $4 billion in slot revenue to state coffers over three decades.

Moreover, as part of the 30th-anniversary celebration, Foxwood’s is giving away $300,000 in cash and prizes this week.

It’s also making a $30,000 monthly donation throughout 2022 to non-profit organizations beginning with United Way.

An interior shot of Foxwood's golf simulator.
The casino sports a golf simulator.
Foxwoods Resort Casino

The thing is, Foxwoods always did it big: Frank Sinatra opened its first theater in 1993.

“That was a big deal. Sinatra was playing Vegas and Atlantic City, and then he came to Foxwoods,” said Guyot. “Pavarotti opened the space that is now the High Stakes Bingo Hall.

“In 1992 we were a monopoly, then it became a duopoly,” he added, referring to the Mohegan Tribe’s 1996 opening of Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, just over 10 miles west.

An inset of Jason Guyot over Foxwoods.
Jason Guyot (inset) is the hopeful CEO of Foxwoods.
Foxwoods Resort Casino

Despite financial ups and downs, both are buoyed by that real estate constant: a creamy location sandwiched halfway between New York City and Boston, captivating two major urban markets looking for out-of-town fun.

“First there was Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and then Foxwoods,” he added. “Now, no one in the Northeast, or even in the country can compete with us.”