At Foxwoods, Pequot Woodlands Casino, Wahlburgers restaurant join lineup

The Day
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Mashantucket ― Foxwoods Resort Casino’s ongoing transformation at the center of the property ― an $85 million project announced a year ago ― marked another milestone Tuesday with the official opening of a new gaming area and the unheralded “soft” opening of a fast-casual, celebrity-named restaurant.

Pequot Woodlands Casino, the new 50,000-square-foot gaming area, adds more than 400 slot machines and 24 table games to Foxwoods’ gaming mix, while Wahlburgers, the new restaurant, is associated with the Wahlberg family, including actors Donnie and Mark and their brother Paul, a chef who launched the chain more than a decade ago in Massachusetts.

The new casino and the new restaurant flank celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, which debuted last month.

Jason Guyot, Foxwoods’ president and chief executive officer, said walls that had hidden the Pequot Woodlands Casino’s construction came down last Wednesday, fueling anticipation among patrons and employees in advance of Tuesday’s 11 a.m. opening. He said $30 million had been invested in the area ― Foxwoods' sixth gaming floor, or casino, and, except for the 2021 addition of a DraftKings sportsbook, its first major gaming-area upgrade in years.

“We really started putting together this master plan for renovations in 2020,” Guyot said. “We knew we needed something new to compete coming out of COVID and into the future. It’s hard to believe three years have gone by.”

The cornerstone of the renovation plan was the creation of a hub of amenities in Foxwoods’ Grand Pequot Concourse area, which had been a sort of no man’s land between the main Foxwoods casino and The Fox Tower, a once freestanding structure linked to the Grand Pequot Casino by the Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods, the indoor shopping mall that opened in 2015.

“This brings The Fox Tower closer to the heart of the property, figuratively,” Guyot said of the new “hub” area.

The Pequot Woodlands Casino, which is wide open off the concourse, features a high-limit area where two picture windows afford a panoramic view of the woods surrounding Foxwoods. The HighFlyer Zipline, anchored atop The Fox Tower, can be seen stretching down to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in the distance.

“When Foxwoods opened in 1992, it was meant to feel like you were outside,” Guyot said. “It was so big and so bright.”

He said the new gaming area is designed to recapture some of that feel. Pillars in the area represent trees while the pattern in the carpet mimics “refractions of sunlight.” In the high-limit area, several of the slot machines are paired with tables and TV screens, creating an individual’s own space, or “pod,” he said.

The Pequot Woodlands Casino also features a 40-seat bar equipped with 36 slots, which winds through the gaming area, as well as Drip, a small public bar just outside the area.

Three-quarters of the new casino’s machines are new, with the rest coming from other Foxwoods gaming areas. The additional machines will increase Foxwoods’ slots inventory to between 3,400 and 3,500 machines. Foxwoods operated just shy of 3,000 machines during July, when it generated a “handle” of $415 million in total slots wagers. It “won,” or kept, $32.6 million after paying out prizes, $8.5 million of which it forwarded to the state.

Since 1993, Foxwoods has contributed more than $4.5 billion in slots revenue to the state.

Guyot said more renovations are planned as part of Foxwoods’ transformation.