The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal nations are preparing to begin work on the Windsor casino in a few weeks. Meanwhile, the renowned MGM Resorts International is raising its bet for the state’s lucrative gambling opportunities.
At the moment, up to $20 million worth of monthly revenue is at stake in Connecticut and this can be attributed to the offer for a Bridgeport casino as well as the fierce opposition to the East Windsor site that is within 17 miles of the $900 million MGM casino which is almost complete in Springfield, Mass.
According to a Hearst Connecticut Media review of the Office of State Ethics’ public records, MGM Resorts International upped its ante in 2017 and ended up spending over $3.8 million in ads for both TV and radio as well as in lobbying the state’s lawmakers and agencies who included Attorney General George Jepsen and Governor Dannel P. Malloy. On the other hand, even after going at it as a joint venture, the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes spent less than $1.2 million, which would obviously give their competitors with deeper pockets an upper hand. MGM Resorts International went further and paid Ballard Partners $270,000 to be its Washington lobbyist to focus on the Department of the Interior and the White House.
While the tribes are not too happy about MGM’s progress citing the casino operator’s disregard for the protection of jobs and revenue in the state, the company’s management are of a totally different opinion;
“It has taken a concerted effort just to be part of the conversation in Connecticut,” said Bernard Kavaler, MGM’s spokesperson. “We continue to believe that an open, competitive process would be best for the state and its taxpayers, and we continue to believe that Bridgeport is the best location — in terms of jobs and economic development — for a commercial casino in Connecticut.”
MGM’s efforts are also gaining a lot of support from various lawmakers since according to Av Harris, director of legislative affairs and public policy in Bridgeport, MGM has been “very consistent and very serious the whole time about their interest in developing a major casino/entertainment facility” in the city.