The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations were set to begin work on dismantling the abandoned Showcase Cinamas in East Windsor where the joint venture of MMCT were to build a casino. Let’s face it, it was intended to be a quick reaction to save jobs and revenue going over the border to Springfield .
MGM Resorts International continues to throw any resistance they can, raising its own bet for Connecticut’s lucrative gambling dollars. In case you missed it, in the last few years MGM has:
- flooded the towns considered for the MMCT third casino venture with propaganda to promote disinterest
- stirred the pot by inciting other CT tribes to “get their piece of the pie,”
- made CT legislators consider other processes for gaming in the Nutmeg State
- studied and suggested Bridgeport as the best place for a new casino (away from Springfield)
- continues litigation with the state of CT concerning the casino addition
- slowed the third casino process to a crawl, getting ahead with their project in Springfield while
- continuing to move forward steadily in building MGM Springfield
- and even has CT politicians & residents alike thinking that no additional casino is the best scenario
With an offer for a Bridgeport casino and fierce opposition to the East Windsor site within 17 miles of the $900 million MGM casino nearing completion in Springfield, Mass., there is as much as $20 million a month in Connecticut gambling revenue at stake.
Ken Dixon of the CT Post reported the following actions as MGM raised the ante last year:
- Spending more than $3.8 million in TV and radio ads and lobbying state agencies and lawmakers, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen, a Hearst Connecticut Media review of public records in the Office of State Ethics has found. (The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegans’ joint venture spent less than $1.2 million.)
- MGM hired a Washington lobbyist to focus on the Department of the Interior and the White House, paying Ballard Partners $270,000.
- Lobbying total comparisons: MGM Resorts International $3.8 million, Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods $77,850, MMCT Venture, (East Windsor tribal casino) $1.2 million, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Kent $158,194 (when MGM backed an effort to get the tribe recognized and allowed a competing casino)
- MGM Resorts International’s growing investment in Connecticut lobbying – 2015 — $172,937 2016 — $1,224,440, 2017 — $3.8 million
“It’s par for the course,” said Andrew Doba, spokesman for the two tribes. “MGM has shown, month after month, year after year, that they are willing to spend ungodly amounts of money to prevent Connecticut from taking the logical and necessary steps to protecting jobs and revenue.”
Recently, Kenneth Gosselin if the Hartford Courant reported the introduction of a bill that would open casino expansion in Connecticut to competitive bidding calls for scrapping plans for a casino in East Windsor. The bill requires that proposals include a workforce of at least 2,000 and an agreement to give the state at least 25 percent of gross gaming revenues from all games, plus at least 10 percent from slot machines. The pact with CT’s two tribal casinos now in action insures 25% of all slot revenue.
What would the New bill entail?
- Bids are due by Jan. 1.
- The proposals also must show the bidders are able to pay a one-time $50 million licensing fee to the state.
- The legislature’s public safety and security committee, which oversees gaming, will hold a public hearing on the bill on March 8.
The legislative committee will take a broader look at the future of gaming in the state, including sports betting, in an informational forum.
Last February I wrote that there were three future possibilities in Connecticut concerning casino expansion:
“At this time, here are the possibilities:
- No Casino – yes, that’s right. In a quick Twitter poll on our NETimeGambling Twitter site, 60% responded to no casino, 20% for Bridgeport, and 20% for the Hartford area.
- MMCT gets their casino, the mess continues, but to no avail.
- All Hell Breaks Lose! – the process is revisited, commercial casinos apply for two licenses, and I’ll be writing about it well into 2020.”
Well, here we are a year later. I guess not much has changed, except for one thing – MGM is winning the battle in CT. Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods should start thinking about other possibilities to compete for the gambler’s dollar.