Connecticut Casino Expansion, Part Two – Decline, Proposals & Collaboration

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The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

or more like

The slot bucks are declining, the slot bucks are declining!

Well, the “repeal hysteria from Masssachusetts” has been replaced by the “protect our slot revenue hysteria” in Connecticut.

THE PROPOSAL

Keith Phaneuf, from the CT. Mirror, reported that Rep. Peggy Sayers, D-Windsor Locks, prompted speculation at the Capitol last Friday that the Bradley Teletheater could be a target for a new gaming operation.  Sayers said the General Assembly can work with the tribes to identify sites throughout the state for safe, regulated gaming venues that would provide Connecticut jobs, and keep revenues here.  “Connecticut’s native American Tribes have developed two world-class gaming resorts that have brought thousands of jobs and millions in economic development to this state for nearly two decades,” Sayers said in statement. “We are living in new and different times, with increased competition in every surrounding state, and we need to support and protect the jobs in our state.”

image(21)Connecticut has sanctioned gambling at two Indian casinos in its southeastern corner for two decades. In exchange, the state receives a portion of the profits from those facilities’ video slot machines, their most popular games. And in return, the state guarantees the Mashantucket Pequots – who operate the Foxwoods Resorts Casino – and the Mohegans, that no other entity may offer casino games in Connecticut.

THE DECLINE of REVENUE

But, both tribal casinos have struggled with declining gambling patronage since the last recession. The state’s share of video slot revenues, which peaked at $430 million in 2007, has declined steadily since.  The revenue peaked at $430.5 million in 2006-07. Since, they has consistently declined.  Projections released jointly by Governor Malloy’s budget staff and by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis propose a drop more rapidly in the near future.

In millions, the combined payments Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are projected to make to the state in coming fiscal years(Source: Office of Policy and Management, Office of Fiscal Analysis):

FY 2014: $279.9 (actual)
FY 2015: $267.5
FY 2016: $260.7
FY 2017: $254.3
FY 2018: $190.8

THE COLLABORATION

MoSun SignBrian Hallenbeck of the Day reported that the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes might collaborate on a casino project in northern Connecticut – even thought the Pequots are yet to comment on that.  But it would have to collaborative because the pact with both tribes and the state must include BOTH tribes for future expansion.

The idea’s not “too” crazy, at least to Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which operates Mohegan Sun in Uncasville.  And if it’s to happen, it could happen fast — before casinos proposed in Massachusetts materialize in 2017 or 2018.  “We have the exclusive right,” Etess said Tuesday, referring to the tribes’ gaming compacts with the state, which would have to be amended to accommodate expanded gambling. “It’s very easy to foresee some type of legislative solution that would be owned by the tribes — that would maintain revenue for the state of Connecticut.”

MORE TALK ON SAVING CT’s GAMING INDUSTRY

Luther Turmelle of CT Magazine reported that Kevin Brown, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, said Friday that he is grateful that state Rep. Peggy Sayers wants Connecticut to “take bold and immediate action to protect and expand our state’s gaming industry.”

Rep. Stephen Dargan, D-West Haven, the leader of the state legislative panel that oversees gaming issues said Monday that he wants to hold an informational hearing later this month on ways to preserve the casino industry Connecticut has developed. But Dargan also said that anyone following the casino industry in the Northeast should have seen this discussion coming. The West Haven lawmaker said he fears that in the next five years, Connecticut’s gaming facilities could lose 30 percent of their patronage, or more, if nothing is done.

WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN?

My personal assessment of the facts, the myths, and the future……………will be Thursday’s post.

Check in later, until then, that’s all for now.

Binbin