MGM Resorts’ long-running feud with Connecticut’s tribal gaming operators has recently shifted to the town of Bridgeport where MGM has proposed the construction of a gaming and entertainment complex worth $675 million. Amidst all this, MGM Resorts International has reasserted a bid that sought to have the state establish a competitive bidding process for a casino in Bridgeport – the Southeastern gaming tribes of Connecticut have shown interest in partaking in this process as it seems to be the best way to go about the issue.
“The Tribes’ request yesterday to be ‘part of that discussion’ is good news for the people of Connecticut,” MGM Resorts senior vice president, Uri Clinton wrote on Thursday in letters addressed to Connecticut’s Governor Dannel P. Malloy and the state’s legislative leaders. “There appears to be, for the first time, agreement that such a discussion is in the state’s best interest.”
“That the Tribes also see the tremendous potential of Bridgeport confirms our analysis that Bridgeport is by far the best-situated location in the state for a commercial casino — and the only location with the potential to actually grow the State’s gaming revenue,” he added.
Prior to this, the chairmen of the Mohegan and Mashantucket tribes who are the respective owners of the Mohegan Sun and Foxwood Resorts Casino had sent a letter to Governor Malloy as well as state legislative leaders declaring their interest in establishing a casino in Bridgeport.
“Back in 2015, our initial proposal would have authorized three new facilities, one in north-central CT, one in the Danbury area and one in Fairfield County,” the letter read. “It was the legislature’s decision to move forward with only one site in the north-central Hartford region. If circumstances have changed and there is now real interest in putting a casino in Bridgeport, we want to be a part of that discussion.”
The two tribes have had an exclusive deal with the state to operate their casinos on the Southeastern corner of Connecticut for years and the entry of MGM Resorts presented a stalemate. They, therefore, wrote to the state lawmakers asking to be partisan to any deliberations involving Bridgeport. There is, of course, no love lost between MGM Resorts International and the bill that aims to grant the tribes exclusive rights to develop a third casino in Connecticut – instead, the casino operator is pushing for an alternative bill that calls for competitive bidding on which of the two parties get to build a casino in Bridgeport.
The casino gaming agreements signed by the casinos years ago had the casinos share their slot machine revenue with the state in exchange for being granted exclusivity within the borders of Connecticut. This was however on condition that the no other entity would be given the opportunity to establish a casino business in Connecticut, otherwise, the payments to the state would stop. To clarify this further, the spokesman of the tribe, Andrew Doba had this to say:
“MGM can say whatever it wants, but the facts are simple. Their project would cost the state $1 billion or more in lost revenue. Continuing our partnership costs the state nothing and will in fact only enhance the amount of revenue the state already receives.”