Wynn & MGM Rumors Abound in Massachusetts

Matt Maddox (left & Steve Wynn (right) courtesy of CNBC

Wynn Resorts new CEO Matt Maddox reported on CNBC Wednesday that “Boston’s not up for sale. What Boston represents for us is a good growth opportunity……I like that market. I found that land. I pursued that deal. I entered the agreement with the host community five years ago. I liked that market then, I like that market now.”

Rumors have been spreading daily over the two new casinos in Massachusetts.  It all started when Steve Wynn, then CEO of Wynn Resorts, Wynn, was accused of demanding sexual favors from female employees over the last three decades. Since these allegations became public, and his resignation as Wynn Resorts chairman and CEO on Feb. 6, a firestorm of speculation has whirled around Everett, MA.,  spreading to Springfield, MA and even Connecticut’s tribal casinos.

MGM BOSTON HARBOR?

MassLive reported that “gaming officials are exploring the sale of Wynn Boston Harbor, with MGM Resorts International as a top candidate to purchase the project.”  MGM Resorts International has been urged on by John DeCree of Union Gaming stating “purchasing Wynn Boston Harbor could result in a double-digit increase in return on investment for MGM than their casino project in Springfield.”  But state gaming regulations only allow a casino operator to hold more than one gaming license in Massachusetts.  Selling their MGM Springfield project would then be necessary to purchase the Wynn property in Everett.

MORE RUMORS

Meanwhile, back in Springfield, MGM this week has reported a new opening date – earlier than the previously announced late September.  MGM Springfield is now prepared to open (mark your calendars!) August 24th, 2018.  This report is not a rumor, but will the casino in Springfield be owned by MGM by that time?

With a series of “what-ifs” and “thens,” check out this possible 5+ step scenario:

  • 1. MGM purchases Wynn Boston Harbor, becoming MGM Boston Harbor
  • 2. MGM sells Springfield casino.
  • 3A. Mohegan Sun buys Springfield, becoming Mohegan Sun Springfield (the Mohegan tribe lost out to Wynn for the Boston license with their proposal in Revere. or
  • 3B. MMCT Joint venture between the Pequot & Mohegan tribes in CT change it’s prospective 3rd CT casino in South Windsor to Springfield, MA.
  • 3C. The prospective 3rd CT casino in South Windsor continues as a joint venture between the Pequot & Mohegan tribes in CT
  • 4. The prospective 3rd CT casino in South Windsor is not built, leaving Foxwoods out of the mix, until….
  • 5. Connecticut opens bidding for Bridgeport Casino, as Foxwoods & MGM become prime suitors to battle it out for the NYC market.

It seems like fun to make these rumored projections, much like a mock draft on Draft Day.  But it isn’t fun and games for the city of Springfield. MA. Casino opponents in Springfield always warned that “something like this could happen with MGM’s track record.”

MGM Springfield

Remember when this beautiful tower was going to enhance the Springfield skyline?

AND WHAT ABOUT SPRINGFIELD?

According to MassLive, “Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said Friday he has been assured by the top executives of MGM Resorts International and MGM Springfield that it remains committed to building a first-class resort casino in the city, despite unconfirmed reports that the company is in discussions to purchase the under-construction Wynn Resorts casino in Everett.” Residents have made it known that they need MGM for its economic and jobs promises. Some note that MGM has already changed its plans when they changed the 30-story hotel tower and decreased the casino floor.

Other residents have noted that businesses have been reluctant to break ground in Springfield to accompany the opening of MGM Springfield.

MGM has stated, “We do not comment on rumors or speculations around transactions. We remain fully committed to the opening and success of MGM Springfield.”  But it is the Boston market that will pay the most dividends.  Springfield has always been, to some, a questionably lucrative project.

CONCLUSION

Many events would have to happen in order for Wynn Boston Harbor to become MGM Boston Harbor. The summer will prove to be interesting, as state legislatures business is coming to a halt soon in both states, putting a hold on possibilities.  Besides the Wynn Boston Harbor mess and the MMCT situation in CT, sports-betting is also on the table in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

For Springfield’s sake, I hope the next throw of the dice isn’t “snake-eyes!”

Binbin

Dr. Clyde Barrow & the Proposed Bridgeport Casino

Attorney General Jepson

Attorney General George Jepsen has advised Connecticut legislators to test the market for opening Connecticut to commercial casinos. He seems to think it wouldn’t jeopardize $260 million in slots revenue the state expects to collect this year under the exclusive deal with the tribal owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun.

But this is a questionable tactic in my mind, and so does Clyde Barrow.

Who is Clyde Barrow?

Dr. Clyde Barrow is considered a gaming industry specialist. In a comprehensive study, he stated that a new Connecticut casino (referring to the joint venture between the Mohegans & Pequots) would recapture 46 percent of the 9,300 jobs and $337 million in revenue that would otherwise be lost to out-of-state competition, especially that from Massachusetts.

Casino Consultant, Clyde Barrow

Casino Consultant, Clyde Barrow

Dr. Barrow goes on to say recently, “Precedent has already been set. According to Barrow, “in October of 2010, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council “stopped sharing revenue from the casino along New York’s northern border with the state, claiming the exclusivity provisions of its gambling compact has been violated…..In other words: if the State of Connecticut grants a commercial gaming license to any operator other than the State’s two Indian tribes under an open competitive bid process, then the tribe’s current combined revenue sharing payments of $267 million annually could cease immediately (Connecticut Division of Special Revenue 2017).”

Connecticut’s Tribal Tax Revenue

Foxwoods Resort Casino has operated a Class III casino under a compact with the State of Connecticut since February 15, 1992 and Mohegan Sun Casino has operated a Class III casino under a compact with the State of Connecticut since October 12, 1996. Connecticut’s two tribes have a combined Gross Gaming Revenue that is the 4th largest in the United States.  The top three are California (where 62 of the 109 California tribes own 69 casinos), Florida (2 tribes operate and own 8 casinos) and Washington state (32 tribal casinos owned by 23 tribes). Remember, only two tribes with only two casinos in the third smallest US state.

But all that revenue from slots at both tribal casinos would be lost with a competitive process for the 4th casino in Bridgeport.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed MGM Bridgeport casino.(Image: MGM Resorts International)

As reported by Brian Hallenbeck, the Day staff writer, Dr. Barrow said “Assuming the third Connecticut casino gets built — and few consider that a slam dunk — a fourth, competitively bid casino would have to generate nearly $1.1 billion in annual gross gaming revenues to offset what the state would lose when the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes stop sharing their casinos’ slot-machine revenues, a new report concludes. And the probability of a Bridgeport casino pulling in that kind of cash “is almost zero [because] not a single commercial casino in the United States currently generates that level of gross gaming revenue,,”

 

Let’s look at a few other considerations:

  1. The traffic from New York of prospective gamblers will cause studies and improvements in the dangerous, time consuming highway that is I-95. Improved infrastructure should be paid for by any perspective Bridgeport Casino project, or that will cut into Connecticut’s tax revenue, diminishing the already smaller revenue expected without the tribal tax revenue.

    I-95 traffic congestion on SW CT.

  2. Potential developments in New York, where a constitutional moratorium on New York City casinos expires in December 2022, also threaten the success of a Bridgeport casino, Barrow contends. “There is nothing to prevent the State of New York from locating a new casino even closer to the Connecticut border, where it could intercept casino traffic from New York City and capture traffic from Fairfield County. The anticipated traffic from New York City will never materialize for a Bridgeport casino because New York can easily and quickly pre-empt a new competitive threat from Connecticut by building an even more lavish casino that is more convenient to New York City customers.”
  3. If newly built New York Casinos and NYC close Empire and Resorts World Casinos are already cutting into the tribal revenue, what kind of a terrible impact would a border war with New York AND Massachusetts bring without the CT tribal revenue when the exclusive pact with the tribes is broken.

I believe Dr. Barrow’s analysis.  But maybe MGM International also believes he’s right.  I guess that’s how stalling tactics, and MGM is real good at not showing its hand. Meanwhile, MGM Springfield continues – full speed ahead, while Connecticut is still waiting for in first gear.

Bin bin

Connecticut Casino Expansion Intensifies

 

MGM  Bridgeport rendering top. Proposed MMCT joint venture casino between CT’s Mohegan & Pequot tribes for East Windsor, CT. below.

To add a casino or not add a casino? – That is NOT the question. To add two casinos? – Now that’s the question!

To get the prequel for this post, click on the the post “Wynn, MGM, Bridgeport & MMCT – Questions Abound.”  

The battle at the border between MGM Springfield and the MMCT joint casino venture by the Mohegan & Pequot tribes is going on three years now. But events in March took the conflict to a new height. Highlights?  Sure, there are plenty:

  • CT Attorney General George Jepsen advised legislators on Thursday to consider and test the market for opening Connecticut to commercial casinos, believing that commercial casinos would not jeopardize the $160 million in slots revenue that the state expects to collect in 2018 from the exclusivity deal signed with tribal owners Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owners of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino.

    Attorney General Jepson

  • According to MGM, Connecticut left tons of money on the table by accepting the first casino proposal that came their way. MGM has argued for the past year that the casino proposal process should be open to commercial interests. MGM would also pick a different location – Bridgeport, which is further from the MGM Springfield than East Windsor.
  • MGM wants to build a casino and hotel on the Bridgeport waterfront – the only place MGM is interested in. A bill to support this was in jeopardy after committee leadership refused to hold a vote on it, but it was passed with one major change – Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun will still be allowed to develop their own casino in East Windsor, CT, minutes from the Massachusetts border and from MGM Springfield. Due to the change in the billMGM isn’t so so sure it’s interested if the MMCT casino in East Windsor is allowed to be built.

    Connecticut State Capitol

  • Then, Connecticut lawmakers approved a revised bill that could pave the way for the construction of the state’s fourth casino. The piece of legislation nearly died in the General Assembly’s Public Safety and Security Committee, but last-ditch efforts from lawmakers supporting the idea helped it survive with a 21-3 vote in favor. If approved in the Legislature, the bill would allow for the opening of a new bidding process for operators interested in building a casino in Connecticut. In case the proposed commercial casino bill reaches the desk of Governor Dannel Malloy and he signs it into law, the state of Connecticut would then subsequently allow the local Indian tribes, casino developers, and other qualified entities to submit their respective proposals for establishing the fourth legally authorized gaming venue in the state.

You can’t make this stuff up!  At any given time, either side sound like adolescents not getting their way, only this is different – there’s a lot of money at stake!

Remember to go to TravelZork to see our monthly post, as well as all of their great coverage of  travel, Vegas & casino resources on the web.

CT Should Try the “Massachusetts Model for Casino Expansion”

In a previous post, I suggested what was, at the time, a rediculous suggestion on casino expansion in CT.  It was based on how things eventually turned out in Massachusetts.  But it doesn’t seem so far fetched now.  Matter of fact, the latest CT legislature bill resembles my silly suggestion. Let’s call it the “Massachusetts Model for Casino Expansion.”  This is what I suggested a year ago:

  1. Set up a process for  accepting license applications similar to Massachusetts.
  2. Begin the bidding process for both the Bridgeport casino & East Windsor Casino in the mix.  We’ll call them the Southwest license and the Nithern license.
  3. This will stop the 25% guarantee on slots to the state from Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, but later on, (hopefully) this will not be a problem due to two new casinos.
  4. Allow MMCT to bid for East Windsor & Bridgeport, as well as anyone else, such as MGM, CET, & Boyd. MGM couldn’t bid even if it wanted to on East Windsor because its Massachusetts license has a radius restriction on building new casinos nearby……there are few commercial operators willing to launch a casino between the new MGM Springfield and the tribes’ big destination casinos on the reservations, especially if it also meant matching the state’s revenue from those tribal casinos. So, because MMCT would be considered a company interested in a commercial casino in East Windsor, it would have to cover the new fee together (25% of table games & slot revenue.)
  5. If chosen, Mohegan & Pequot tribes would stop their deposit to the state coffers, but would now cover 25% of slots and table games at the East Windsor site.  If they decide they aren’t interested, someone (but not MGM) will build a casino in northern CT, at the same 25% slots and table game status. (remember, the previous pact with the tribes covered 25% of only slot revenue)
  6. Meanwhile, all applications, similar to Massachusetts, will be accompanied by stringent background checks and $500,000 application fee (higher due to the inflation of 6 years).  Eight companies were interested for the Springfield and Boston region casinos.  An application fee of $400,000 immediately brought in over $3 million dollars in revenue before the process had begun!
  7. In the end, it seemed obvious to me that the MGC were leaning towards Wynn & MGM. I’m not suggesting the process be skewed toward our tribal casinos, but am established working relationship should go a long way compared to unknown relationships with commercial casino companies.
  8. The need for a casino in Bridgeport could change or be voted down. A south-western CT casino could eventually be a moot point, if CT decides it doesn’t want it any more. In Mass, Brockton & Rush Gaming were held hostage until the MGC dropped the Region C license due to the litigation troubles the Mashpee Wampanoags were going through.
  9. In the end, the two tribal casinos would be still standing alone, only the state of CT would have made extra revenue on the process.

So much for daydreaming.  Next, I’ll dream about 99% video poker and 2/1 Blackjack as the expectation for the future.

Thats all for now.

Binbin

Two Years Ago

Two years ago, I posted the following article about the changes between 2013 & February, 2016.  it’s interesting to see what had happened in that time period, what was expected to happen between then and now, and actually where we stand two years later. So, here is the actual article, with updates as we go. Remember this was originally written in 2016. Enjoy…..


(February 8th 2016) Let’s go back in time first…..

Two years ago in New England.

Two years ago in New England.

Two years ago, (2014) it was all about Wynn Everett never happening, Mohegan Sun’s rejection in Palmer or Revere, and MGM Springfield causing concern over traffic, historic buildings, yadda, yadda, yadda…

Last year, (2015) MGM Springfield & Wynn Everett are given casino licenses, but will open two years later. Connecticut looks at the possibility for a third casino, law suits between MGM & CT, and Wynn & Boston’s Mayor Walsh erupt, Rhode Island’s Twin River buys Newport Grand and talks of moving it to Tiverton, while Massachusetts opens its first Casino in Plainville, Mass. only to find disappointment because of declining revenue after its opening. (As we now realize, Plainridge Park has had a series of months with growing revenue. Wynn & Walsh made nice, nice, Twin River Management is progressing through those plans in 2018.)

imagesIt’s 2016.  Wynn & MGM have begun breaking ground, fewer lawsuits remain, and Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville continues to perform to less than expected (and highly bloated) results.  CT is trying to find a location for its third casino, and everything seems to be moving forward to the wonderfully saturated and competitive casino market we know as New England.

But what would the casino industry be like without some turmoil?  So, here’s the next chapter of  “As The New England Casino Industry Turns.”  Recently:

IN MASSACHUSETTS

  • The Bureau of Indian Affairs officially designated Mashpee Wampanoag lands as a reservation on Friday. In September, the U.S. Department of Interior agreed to take 321 acres of tribe-owned land into trust on its behalf.
    Rendition Wampanoag Casino in Taunton

    Wampanoag Casino in Taunton

    But not so fast, a group of Taunton property owners filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday challenging the designation of neighboring land as a Native American reservation, a legal move meant to block a $500 million casino planned for the location,  describing the tribe’s plans for a massive casino and hotel complex as “grossly out-of-character” for a quiet residential area. Sound familiar?  (i.e., Palmer MA, Tiverton RI) (First Light continues to be stuck in “Legislative Limbo.”)

  • Then there’s Brockton – you remember that city, don’t you?  They’re the ones patiently waiting to find out what Massachusetts and the Mass.Gaming Commission are going to do with the Mashpee proposal in Taunton.  th (11)The Brockton casino proposal is the only remaining commercial license applicant pursuing a license provided to the southeastern region by the state’s gaming law. If both eventually appear years in the future, it’s said they will be able to “co-exist,” meaning not prosper, not financially aid the state of Massachusetts, and play second fiddle to MGM & Wynn forever.  The new lawsuit mentioned above by Taunton could keep the decision in limbo for years.  Rush Street Gaming, developer of Brockton’s Casino proposal, won’t stick around that long. (The MGC decided not to award any SE gaming license, with Brockton being the last casino standing, but not getting the award.)

IN CONNECTICUT

thA third casino site for a jointly run Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun Casino to compete with MGM Springfield Resort being built across the line in MA, will be decided on later than expected.  Now remember, MGM Resorts filed a lawsuit against the state of Connecticut in 2015 alleging that the state had not followed fair policy by giving casino establishments an equal right to bid for a third casino in Connecticut, suggesting partiality to CT’s two “casino” tribes.  Recently, The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, ignored by CT and feds, established a business entity with the aim of being allowed to establish a commercial casino within the borders of CT and they remain dedicated to the idea of operating the third CT gambling faculty. Richard Blumenthal, the state’s congressional delegation, have opposed new rules by the BIA that would have made winning federal recognition easier for tribes like the Schaghticokes.  In one week, the tribe from Kent, CT was approved and denied, with Connecticut saying their made a “boo-boo.”   Maybe MGM Springfield has a point with their lawsuit. (The whole thing was eventually dismissed, leading this blogger to wonder if there is still a political predjudice towards tribal peoples. Ironic that it would be alive and well in New England, you know – Pilgrims, first contact, etc…)

IN RHODE ISLAND

The Battlefield for Casino Supremacy in Rhode Island & Southeast Mass

The Battlefield for Casino Supremacy in Rhode Island & Southeast Mass

Twin River Casino, owner of Newport Grand Casino, would ask voters statewide and in Tiverton to decide the fate of the new casino with referendums on the November 2016 ballot. The question would need to pass both statewide and in Tiverton for the casino to be approved.  In a Tiverton town meeting, townspeople sounded genuinely split on the issue as they talked about the practicalities and the morality of hosting a gambling venue. (Tiverton and Twin River Casino’s new Hotel is all happening – just r-e-a-l-l-y sloooowwwwwwwly)

IN MAINE

York County, Maine om the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed

York County, Maine on the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed

Hey, is Maine still looking to add a third casino – closer to the Massachusetts border?  According to a detailed report in the Bangor Daily News, petition circulators were hired in the state of Maine to gather signatures to try and bring another casino to the state.

Soon after the signature campaign started that circulators began to allege issues that they were hired by the company Harness Racing Jobs Fairnessto gather signatures, promised as much as $10 per signature! The unorthodox campaign to give a Las Vegas gambling developer the sole right to build a York County casino submitted its signatures Monday to put the proposal to Maine voters in November.  NETG prediction – referendum? sure…..casino?  Nah. (And we were right – twice and no Maine casino in York county.)

So, unless you were gone for the month of January and February (2016), that’s the news to peak your interest. Same issues, just different players.

Binbin

Wynn, MGM, Bridgeport & MMCT – Questions Abound

Over the last few days, news reports have made my mind spin.  While so many headlines have come from different angles, they all seem related to NETimeGambling interests.  Our coverage of New England Casinos news this week has noticeably been missing, but not on purpose. You see, we could report all the news that you have read about already, but it’s too early for comprehensive coverage. The past week’s headlines could actually turn the entire southern New England gambling landscape upside down. Covering this takes careful perspective and consideration.

However, it hasn’t stopped me from thinking about all of it – past, present, and future. Random thoughts running rampant.  Now, I need to share before my head bursts.

Billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn steps down as chairman and CEO of Wynn resorts, amidst allegations of sexual misconduct.

Steve Wynn with his rendition of Wynn Boston Harbor

It’s sad to think that these allegations go back so many years. The “good old boys” network of covering for each other in entertainment and political fields is now being uncovered in the casino industry.

  • Will it stop the casino in Boston Harbor from still built and becoming the jewel of New England’s casino landscape?  Emphatically “No!”
  • Will the Massachusetts Gaming Commission take the charge and investigate the lies Steve-o made to Cosby and the MGC?  If they have any integrity they will – something that was questionable in the way the license was handled in the first place.
  • By the way, the state Gaming Commission said the omission of mentioning the $7.5 million settlement paid to a woman by Wynn in 2005 in the gaming license application is “critical” to the commission’s review and decision whether or not to approve. How should Mohegan Sun feel about such an unfair process of choosing Wynn over their Revere casino application.

Future Of Proposed East Windsor Casino In Doubt

Proposed MMCT joint venture casino between CT’s Mohegan & Pequot tribes

The fed’s delay, influenced by MGM adding itself to the MMCT lawsuit defense, has seemingly turned the tables on the Pequot and Mohegan joint casino in East Windsor. The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs had 45 days to approve or deny the changes to Connecticut’s gaming compact with the tribes. But, recently, the Trump administration advanced an interesting argument that may even cause the extinction of the East Windsor Casino project even as demolition is scheduled for the casino site. In a motion filed on Monday, government attorneys called for the removal of the Pequots from the case. They contend the tribe’s new casino deal is not subject to “mandatory deadlines — or any deadlines at all” at the federal level, all of which proves true and stops the tribe of Foxwoods fame to be deleted from the MMCT suit.

  • My first response was MGM will do anything to protect its MGMSpringfield project.  It shows me that rumors of questionable success and an unsure feeling about MGM does exist. If you were sure the product you were peddling was so great, why try to kill off all competition?
  • How could Foxwoods not see this coming? Not realizing this snafu was serious enough to put the 3rd casino project in jeopardy could start tribal hostilities between the two tribes once again – dating back to 1637 when the Mohegan’s were originally part of the Pequot tribe, but gradually became independent and allied with English colonists in the Pequot War.

Revoke East Windsor license and set up competition in Bridgeport?

Supporters of a casino in Bridgeport rolled out a bill this week, to revoke the East Windsor license granted last year and replace it with a competition for proposals for a single casino costing at least $500 million. The bill calls for bids by Jan. 1, which would have to include a deal with a city or town, complete with a referendum, anyplace in Connecticut.

Distance from Bridgeport to Resorts World, less than 60 miles away.

  • Why Bridgeport?  Well, before the tribal pacts were made Mohegan and Pequot Tribes, Wynn and Trump saw Bridgeport as a perfect site with proximity to the Big Apple. But, then Governor Weicker made the agreement with the tribes for sole gambling rights. Trump, Wynn, and Bridgeport probably still haven’t forgiven the state of CT.
  • Why Bridgeport?  Because MGM, who has found a new city for financial promises, can’t build a casino anywhere in CT that is within a 90 mile radius of Springfield, according to their licensing agreement.
  • Why Bridgeport? It will open up a bidding war for the first commercial casino in the Nutmeg State, with developers required to meet specific requirements, including: A minimum of 2,000 people to be directly employed at the facility, $500 million minimum total investment for Commercial Casino Gaming Facility, $50 million nonrefundable license fee due before construction, 25% of the annual gross gaming revenue on both Slots and Tables, and additional 10 percent of the annual gross gaming revenue from the operation of video slot machine games to fund Educational Cost Sharing grants for distribution to municipalities.
  • Guess what – NETG suggested rebidding 2 years ago.  Only it was to add more money to the state coffers like Massachusetts did – all those application fees add up!  Then, turn around and do what you want anyway. Ask Rush Gaming and CET Gaming how The MGC choices stack up in their eyes.

MGM is quite the instigator!

Casino.org says, “Although Connecticut’s two tribal operators believe it’s part of a very elaborate bluff, an artist’s rendering of the proposed MGM Bridgeport casino, which the gaming operator says will bring 2,000 permanent jobs and a tax revenue stream of $316 million per year, has been created and presented to the state’s power brokers. (Image: MGM Resorts International)

It all began with CT’s reaction to MGM Springfield. MGM was not happy that Connecticut would acquiesce to their competition. Lobbyists infiltrated the MMCT process in choosing a site, and continued to lobby against it when East Windsor was chosen. Then another tactic – trying to get the Schaghticokes tribe federal and state recognition. That didn’t happen, so it was on to  Bridgeport.  I guess MGM is seen as the Golden Ticket to needy groups and cities.

MGM sure has a lot of money to stop CT’s “slot-box.”

Yep, that’s what they called it, even though it will be close in size, casino area, and gambling offered – with a full casino, unlike Plainridge Park in Plainville Massachusetts. MGM could stand for “Money Gone Mad” if referring to expenditures to battle the MMCT venture. Check this out:

  • MGM spent 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. 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 totals: Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods $77,850; MGM Resorts International $3.8 million; MMCT Venture, (East Windsor tribal casino) $1.2 million; Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority $178,702; Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Kent $158,194
  • MGM Resorts International’s growing investment in Connecticut lobbying; 2015 — $172,937; 2016 — $1,224,440; 2017 — $3.8 million  *Source: Office of State Ethics

What will Southern New England’s gaming look like by 2020?

Your guess is as good as mine. Questions abound:

  • Could we see one or two commercial casinos rise up in Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford?
  • How many will be operated by MGM?
  • Will Caesars Entertainment make an appearance in CT?
  • Will CT’s tribes extend to Bridgeport? East Windsor?

Too many questions.  Now my head really hurts.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see…………we all will.

Binbin

 

 

NETimeGambling Looks Back & Forward from 2014

“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” ~Ellen Glasgow

Two years ago in New England.

Four years ago in New England.

A Look Back to 2014

I was looking back at old NETimeGambling posts from 2014 & 2015. So many changes have take place in New England’s Casino Industry.  It’s hard to remember some of the proposals that failed compared to those that have materialized. A few years ago, New England was simply an area with a few casinos. Let me remind you what was happening back then:

“Connecticut Casinos are on the verge of losses beyond recovery. (Instead, by 2017, both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have made many additions and changes, and have diversified their interests into other revenue generating areas, making their relevancy in New England stronger and ready for the New England’s casino expansion.)

”Massachusetts is still in a mess concerning it’s third full casino license in the Southeastern area.” (Eventually, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission passed the New Bedford waterfront and chose Rush Gaming’s proposal in Brockton – but when the Wampanoag tribal casino looked to generate more for the state, the southeast region license was denied to Brockton.  At this time, “First Light Resort of the Wampanoag tribe is stuck in a lawsuit with the townspeople of Taunton.)

Remember when there were two other bidders besides Penn National Gaming for the Slots-only casino? Raynham Park, a former dog-racing track; and Cordish Bros., which had proposed building a slots parlor in Leominster were the other two.

Mohegan Sun was denied not one proposal, but two – in Palmer to MGM Springfield, and Revere’s Suffolk Downs to Steve Wynn’s casino in Everett.

By the way, Mohegan Sun was Suffolk Down’s second suitor. Caesars Entertainment had to withdraw from a connection with Suffolk Downs in 2013 due to alleged ties to Russian organized crime.

A Look Forward From 2015

Southeastern New England’s expansion possibilities in 2015

In 2015, I suggested that the peak number of prospective casinos in New England (prospective, but not probable) totaled at 20! Yes I know, as Tevye from “Fiddeler on the Roof said, “crazy, no!”

Here’s what I posted in 2015. These were my insane expansion numbers of casinos in New England: (for laughs and giggles)

CONNECTICUT – 2 tribal resorts, and 3 tribal “satellite” casinos = Total of 5
RHODE ISLAND – 2 casinos, both under the name of Twin River Casino, Hotel & Resort = Total of 2
MASSACHUSETTS – 3 casino resorts, 1 slots-only parlor, 1 tribal (Wampanoags) = total of 5
NEW HAMPSHIRE – 2 casinos = (don’t count on it, although I expect it brought to legislature at least two more times in the next ten years) = Total of  2
VERMONT – yes, even Vermont has been questioning keeping its revenue in the state, since threatened by MA & NY = Total of  1
MAINE – 3 casinos, all expanded to small resorts and 2 tribal (Maliseets & Passamaquaddys) = Total of 5

Some say the Northeast is already saturated. Can you imagine if all this did come true?

Main Street, Red Rose Pizza in the far left corner. In between is Howard Street to the Cinema, Bowling, and Event area

I can’t wait to see what really happens before my eyes. And it all starts next year with MGM Springfield. Remember, “all change is not growth.”  But change is on the horizon.

Make it so!

That’s all for now.

Binbin

New England Casinos – 5 Top Stories of 2017

2017 was the year that we finally started to see the future of casino gaming in the northeast. Pennsylvania is adding more casinos. New York will complete it’s 24th casino with Resorts World Catskills in 2018. Atlantic City is showing signs of recovery with the addition of Hard Rock Casino in the former Trump Taj – and just maybe Revel will be bought, renovated and opened. And, New Jersey continues to lead the fight in the world of online gaming legislature and country-wide sports betting.

In New England, things have certainly ramped up. Only one word comes to my mind when someone mentions casinos in New England – Expansion. Expansion in Massachusetts with two new casinos by 2019, expansion in Rhode Island with a new hotel and casino in Tiverton, new expansion in Connecticut, however, at this time we still don’t know exactly how much.

So, here’s a look back at 2017 in New England – casino style.

1. MGM SPRINGFIELD

The City of Springfield, MA is preparing for a renaissance in jobs, revenue and entertainment with the opening of MGM Springfield. It’s going to be a different brick-and-mortar casino than previous MGM projects. It could be the single most important project in Springfield history, raising the Rose City up from the ashes.

MGM Springfield Casino Entrance

MGM Springfield Casino Entrance, Main Street to the left,

 

MGM Springfield – What City Improvements Can We Really Expect?

MGM Springfield – An “Urban” Casino

MGM Springfield Releases New Details with Local Flavor

MGMSpringfield Resort Success is Crucial For Springfield

 

2. MOHEGAN SUN CONTINUES TO DIVERSIFY AND EXPAND

 

Kathleen McWilliams, a reporter for the Hartford Courant, reported the Mohegan Tribe’s plan for the former Norwich Hospital site in Preston CT, (just across the river from the casino), would be made into a dozen amenities, including an indoor water park, a senior living center and a sports complex. This huge plan also includes include outdoor and indoor entertainment attractions, a large performing venue, time share units, retail, an RV park and marina. The plan includes restaurant space, a convenience store and gas station. A large project such as this is completely opposite from the trend in casino projects in size and dynamics. Not essentially connected to the casino part of the Tribe’s operations, it will be an overwhelming list for the town of Preston, CT.  In addition, on the casino campus, Mohegan Sun is again expending, this time in conference space.

Mohegan Expo Center, with Earth Hotel upper left.

 

Mohegan Sun News – Plans for Norwich Hospital Site and Mohegan Expo Center

3. FOXWOODS 25th ANNIVERSARY

Foxwoods celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary.  For 25 years, starting with a small bingo hall and the help of then Governor Weicker, Foxwoods has continued to be a country-wide phenomena. It is the largest casino property by square feet, it is the second largest casino area, and it includes the only covered, indoor Tanger outlet in the country. Gaming renovations have included two stadium gaming areas, offering $1 blackjack (3/2), and the continuation of one of the best poker rooms in the country. A more comprehensive move towards non-gaming amenities have included the addition of thrill rides, a zip line and race track for 2018, new restaurants, and additional night-club options. The celebration has gone on most of the year, with many giveaways and events. Here is coverage of New England’s first casino in 2017.

Foxwoods 25th Anniversary – Part 1- The Path To The Top

Foxwoods 25th Anniversary – Part 2 – The Celebration

4. MAINE’S THIRD CASINO PROPOSAL FAILS

Once again, Maine had supporters for a third casino in York County.  Once again, it was defeated. Maybe it was the fact that it seemed like a legislative scam, or that the backers could not be trusted. It started in February and continued along a sleazy path until it’s defeat in November.

Maine’s Third Casino – The Ultimate Scam Allowed by No Legislative Policy

Today’s the Day – The Vote for a Third Maine Casino

5. MGM / CT – THE BATTLE GOES ON

Shall we really re-kindle all of the MGM vs. MMCT news?  Well, it did monopolize much of the gaming news in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.  I guess I have to compare it to our country’s political climate – just nasty. Then there is the possibility (little to none) of a Bridgeport Casino by MGM?  or  MMCT?  or anyone else – as long as the CT agreement with the Pequots & Mohegans  is nullified. Whoo-wee, here are the top posts concerning the I-91 Battle of the Border.

The Old Showcase Cinemas, East Hartford, CT

The Old Showcase Cinemas, East Hartford, CT

East Windsor is Chosen By MMCT for CT Casino

MGM, Massachusetts, Provide Answers to Connecticut’s Casino Mess

MGM Has Mastered the Art of the Stunt – David Collins

Casino.org says, “Although Connecticut’s two tribal operators believe it’s part of a very elaborate bluff, an artist’s rendering of the proposed MGM Bridgeport casino, which the gaming operator says will bring 2,000 permanent jobs and a tax revenue stream of $316 million per year, has been created and presented to the state’s power brokers. (Image: MGM Resorts International)

MGM Bridgeport Casino – All The Angles

Other news included:

New Hampshire once again considered a casino, and looked into internet gaming, but nothing has yet to come of it.

Twin River Management Group finally made its plans for Rhode Island.  After Tiverton’s approval of a new TRMG Casino/Hotel in it’s town, and after they had already purchased Newport Grand, TRMG will move it’s Newport operastion to Tiverton.  They will also build a hotel at it’s flagship property in Lincoln, RI.

New England Casinos will be Increasing the number of casino Hotel Rooms By Over 30% by 2019.

Plainridge Park Casino & Raceway, a slots-only casino, continued to make progress in attracting guests and increasing revenue.

MGM Springfield is ahead of schedule for its 2018 opening. 2017 showed major progress in Springfield’s best hope for economic success.

Wynn Boston Harbor broke ground and in progressing towards a 2019 opening with great anticipation throughout the region.

Oxford Casino in Oxford Maine, finished their hotel on the premises and added another dining option – the Ox Pub.

WOW, WHAT A YEAR!

Living in such a small part of the country with such a vibrant casino industry that is gettiing on it’s feet again after the 2007 recession certainly makes my job easy.  Next year? – more expansion, more excitement, and more bickering from the Connecticut shoreline to downeast Maine.  Happy New Year everybody.

Maine’s Voters Respond – No Third Casino For You!

With about 90 percent of precincts reporting, Question 1 on the ballot was losing by a whopping 83 percent to 17 percent. Question 1 referred to the approval of a third casino in Maine somewhere in York County.

The question would have allowed only one company, Scott’s Capital Seven, to apply for a casino license that state officials estimated would be worth as much as $200 million. The ballot measure would have required Scott’s company to pay a $5 million licensing fee to the state.

Roy Lenardson, spokesman for A Bad Deal for Maine, a political action committee that opposed the casino, said in an interview that voters deserved credit for seeing through a flawed ballot question.

Progress For Maine backed casino, but was soundly rejected

“We’ve heard a lot lately about voters being tricked by ballot questions, but this is vindication of the Maine voter,” Lenardson said. “As much as I would like to take credit for this, it’s a case of democracy working. Everybody did their job, from the governor to the Legislature to the (Maine) ethics commission to the media, who dove into this story. Voters got the information they needed and they made a good decision.”

Is it really a surprise?  No to NETG.  Maine voters have disapproved a third casino before, and with the seemingly one-sided, under-handed plan by Shawn Scott & company, and the ethics committee getting involved, this was surely limping into the vote like “queen-seven of spades” at a Texas Holdem poker game.

Now Maine voters who are against additional gaming can revel in non-expansion.

Scott Thistle’s article in the Portland Press Herald quoted Denise Dionne, one of several South Portland residents who said they voted against the casino referendum. She thinks those voted against can be summed up to 3 reasons:

  1. they didn’t like the kind of jobs it would create
  2. they didn’t trust the project’s backers
  3. they just didn’t want another casino in Maine.

“I don’t want it,” said Dionne, 54, a home renovator. “Go somewhere else. Do they have to be everywhere?”

As far as Maine is concerned, no they don’t!

Binbin

Today’s the Day – The Vote for a Third Maine Casino

A rendering of the proposed York County Casino, courtesy of the Portland Press Herald

Well, today’s the day that Maine decides if York County will be the site for Maine’s third casino. The referendum is written to allow only one person, Shawn Scott, to apply for a permit to build a casino at an unspecified location in York County. Scott is an international gambling entrepreneur who won voter approval to add slot machines to Bangor’s struggling horse track in 2003. He then sold those rights to Penn National – which still operates what is now Hollywood Casino – for $51 million as regulators scrutinized his businesses and associates.  For a related articles, click on Maine’s Third Casino A Bad Bet  and Maine’s Third Casino – The Ultimate Scam Allowed by No Legislative Policy

Shawn Scott, on the right, with attorney Courtesy Herald Press

THE CRITICS

CRITIC #1 – A political action committee called A Bad Deal for Maine that opposes a ballot initiative asking voters to approve a casino in York County has spent just over $600,000 on its campaign, according to state election finance reports. The PAC’s expenditures were funded almost entirely by $700,000 in donations from Black Bear Development LLC, the business name for Oxford Casino, which is owned by the Kentucky-based Churchill Downs Inc., the Maine casino that could lose most from the competition.

CRITIC #2 – Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage is urging voters to oppose a ballot initiative to build a casino in York County, saying it was all about greed. LePage said. “It’s a stacked deck. Once again, Maine’s referendum process has been hijacked by big money, out-of-state interests hoping to pull the wool over your eyes.”

The Sockalexis Bingo Palace on Passamaquody reservation. BANGOR DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO BY JOHN CLARK RUSS

CRITIC #3 – Leaders of the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes spoke out Thursday against the proposed York County casino. “If approved, Question 1 would stand to directly injure the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Nation by significantly reducing financial support that the tribes currently receive under a voter-approved revenue sharing agreement with Oxford Casino,” said Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis, Passamaquoddy-Indian Township Chief William Nicholas and Passamaquoddy-Pleasant Point Chief Ralph Dana.

CRITIC #4 – We at NETG still think that a third casino closer to Wynn Boston Harbor (Oxford & Hollywood are more north) will not be able to compete with the Mega-Resort/Casino and will not do what the pro-casino group Progress for Maine expects.

 

PRO CASINO GROUPS

Progress For Maine wants casino legislation

PRO #1 – One of Maine’s four federally recognized Indian tribes, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, endorsed Question 1 last month following negotiations between tribal leaders and Scott. Scott’s Progress for Maine campaign agreed to help “create new non-gaming economic development opportunities for the tribe” of roughly 1,200 members in northern Maine. In announcing their support for Question 1, the Micmac leaders pointed out that revenues from the Oxford Casino only flow to the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes. The revenue “cascade” from Hollywood Casino in Bangor does not include any specific allocation to tribes.

 

 

 

PRO #2 – Progress For Maine launched a new Ad condemning Kentucky’s Churchill Downs for meddling in Maine election on Question 1.  Progress for Maine is dedicated to economic development and job growth in York County and across the entire state through the establishment of a new gaming and entertainment destination in the York County area. Progress for Maine supports a “Yes” vote on Question 1 on the statewide ballot in November. For more information visit www.ProgressforMaine.com

The full ad can be viewed here.

ETHICS REGULATORS TAKE ACTION

Maine ethics regulators on Friday levied $500,000 in fines against four political committees backing the York County casino referendum. The penalties were reduced from a sum of $4.6 million after considering mitigating factors.

VOTER TURNOUT?

According to  Scott Thistle of the Portland Press Herald, “a relatively small number of voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid and approve a casino in York County in November…..But if 2017 ends up looking anything like 2011 – the last year voters had no statewide races to decide except ballot questions on casinos – then less than half of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots.”  There is still a question whether the Pro Casino will get permission for absentee voting, and reeking havoc with the low voter turnout. Overall voter turnout in 2011 was 43 percent, as voters decided against two casino ballot questions for Lewiston and Biddeford.

As of this week, a poll shows 49% against, 40% for, (11% undecided), which is still close. A sudden surge of voters from either side could make a big difference in the turnout.

Here’s the rundown on how to vote:

Maine Question 1, the Casino or Slot Machines in York County Initiative, is on the ballot in Maine as a indirect initiated state statute on November 7, 2017.

“yes” vote supports this initiative to authorize the Maine Gambling Control Board to accept an application for a license to operate slot machines or a casino in York County, Maine.
“no” vote opposes this initiative to authorize the Maine Gambling Control Board to accept an application for a license to operate slot machines or a casino in York County, Maine.

Binbin

 

Referendum for Maine’s Third Casino Arriving Soon

A rendering of the proposed York County Casino, courtesy of the Portland Press Herald

According to  Scott Thistle of the Portland Press Herald, “a relatively small number of voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid and approve a casino in York County in November…..But if 2017 ends up looking anything like 2011 – the last year voters had no statewide races to decide except ballot questions on casinos – then less than half of the state’s registered voters will cast ballots.”  There is still a question whether the Pro Casino will get permission for absentee voting, and reeking havoc with the low voter turnout.

Overall voter turnout in 2011 was 43 percent, as voters decided against two casino ballot questions for Lewiston and Biddeford.

Shawn Scott, on the right, with attorney Courtesy Herald Press

It seems like the casino thing in Maine is like washing your hair – mix shampoo in hair, rinse out shampoo for clean hair, and repeat. However in Maine, they are always seemingly rinsing out the dirt from Shawn Scott & Co.

Economic experts continue to be skeptical about the York County casino bringing more than 2,000 jobs and $45 million in annual tax revenue to the area.  After all, the building of Oxford Casino included the prediction of $60 million in annual tax income, but has only produced about $32 million annually.

And then there is the referendum that is written to allow only one person, Shawn Scott, to apply for a permit to build a casino at an unspecified location in York County. Scott is an international gambling entrepreneur who won voter approval to add slot machines to Bangor’s struggling horse track in 2003. He then sold those rights to Penn National – which still operates what is now Hollywood Casino – for $51 million as regulators scrutinized his businesses and associates.  For a related articles, click on Maine’s Third Casino A Bad Bet  and Maine’s Third Casino – The Ultimate Scam Allowed by No Legislative Policy

Hollywood Casino, Bangor MaineThere are some who consider Hollywood Bangor a rousing success, and a great example of how casinos can help communities keep taxes down, create new jobs, spur tourism and economic development and generate additional funding for critical education, health care and agriculture priorities.  But, this is the same property that was asking for property assessment reduction in a dispute with the city of Bangor? The lower assessment that resulted from those talks stemmed largely from Hollywood Casino’s declining revenue since the opening of its main competitor, Oxford Casino. Rousing success?  Hollywood has had its slow times over the years.

Progress For Maine wants casino legislation

So, NETG still thinks that a third casino closer to Wynn Boston Harbor (Oxford & Hollywood are more north) will not be able to compete and will not do what the pro-casino group Progress for Maine wants.

Here’s the rundown on the vote:

Maine Question 1, the Casino or Slot Machines in York County Initiative, is on the ballot in Maine as a indirect initiated state statute on November 7, 2017.

“yes” vote supports this initiative to authorize the Maine Gambling Control Board to accept an application for a license to operate slot machines or a casino in York County, Maine.
“no” vote opposes this initiative to authorize the Maine Gambling Control Board to accept an application for a license to operate slot machines or a casino in York County, Maine.

The third casino’s window in Maine has closed. Another option for expanded gambling is needed to take the place of a full casino in southern Maine.

Binbin

 

MGM Bridgeport Casino – All The Angles

“That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands n’more!” – Popeye

Alright, now you did it.  MGM, you even got Popeye all upset with your latest Connecticut propaganda!

When I first started NETimeGambling.com, all I wanted was two things: 1) to supply the latest news and information about New England’s Casinos, and 2) that these seven casinos would behave in a way that would benefit New England Tourism.

After almost five years, I now see it’s all about the almighty dollar, no matter what the economic needs of the residents are.  How naive of me!

And how naive are Bridgeport residents to think that MGM’s prime purpose with this casino mumbo-jumbo is the well-being of Bridgeport. Yes, it will help the jobless plight of the city big-time, while bringing in the usual negative culprits, according to State Senator  Tony Hwang:

  • Property owners see their home values decrease.
  • Communities see increases in crime, traffic, drunk and impaired driving.
  • Local businesses see people spend money in the casino instead of in the local economy.
  • Vulnerable residents — seniors, low-income residents, and the addicted — are enticed by the glitz of the casino and often succumb to their lure.

But you can say that about all casinos with vast differences in those negative effects from casino to casino.  In Plainville, home to Plainridge Park Casino in Massachusetts, the Plainville police report seeing little of the expected increase due to the new casino.

But the scope of this bombshell dropped on CT must be seen from all sides. Let’s look at the whole picture, shall we?

Casino.org says, “Although Connecticut’s two tribal operators believe it’s part of a very elaborate bluff, an artist’s rendering of the proposed MGM Bridgeport casino, which the gaming operator says will bring 2,000 permanent jobs and a tax revenue stream of $316 million per year, has been created and presented to the state’s power brokers. (Image: MGM Resorts International)

Proposal After Proposal

MGM Resorts International’s announced this week plans for a casino and hotel on the banks of the Yellow Mill River. Three decades ago, the Carpenter Technology plant in Bridgeport’s East End shut its doors, costing 600 jobs.  But, MGM has offered plans to build a new casino with 2,000 slot machines, 160 table games, a 700-seat theater, a 300-room hotel, restaurants and retail shops.

This is not a new idea.  Large gaming companies, such as Harrah’s (now Caesars), Mirage Resorts (now MGM), Carnival Hotels & Casinos, Circus Circus Enterprises (now part of MGM), Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts and the Mashantucket Pequots all had letters of intent submitted for expanded gambling in 1995, which was defeated in a lop-sided vote in the legislature.  The Bridgeport casino Steelpointe Harbor location is the same area where President Donald Trump proposed a casino in the 1990s. So what’s different now?

The New Proposal – Murren’s Ties

MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren, left, with Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim (Dan Haar / The Hartford Courant)

Dan Haar of the Hartford Courant quoted CEO of MGM Resorts International Jim Murren as saying “I know Bridgeport’s very historic, important roots and it’s heartbreaking to see what’s happened over the last 60 years.”  Mr. Murren is heartbroken over the dire straits in Bridgeport.  Mr. Haar then goes on to explain Murren’s ties to the area, having been “born here.”  Be careful, reading this article may cause cavities from all the sweet sentiment involved – MGM Bridgeport Casino Solves A Lot Of Problems

Remember how naive anyone, including Bridgeport and the surrounding residents, might act if someone knocked on the door and promised the answer to all their economic woes.  But, if Bridgeport is SO important to MGM and Mr. Murren emotionally, consider this.

The new casino in Springfield Massachusetts that MGM is building gives the city of Springfield a billion-dollar MGM casino, but Bridgeport–with ready access to the New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield/Westchester County markets, is only being offered warrants a half-billion dollar facility. Also, Springfield, as the host city, will receive payments of $25 million a year, and the proposal calls for Bridgeport to be paid only $8 million.  If Jim Murren is altruistically concerned for his hometown’s economy, shouldn’t he be “showing them the money”

Location, Location, Location

Supposedly, Bridgeport is prime property to help the city and state out of budget woes, because it is close to the city that never sleeps – NYC. The Big Apple would be the answer CT is looking for concerning the state’s budget deficit and Bridgeport’s jobless residents.

Seen from the site, the P.T. Barnum ferry returns from Long Island, at distance. (Dan Haar / The Hartford Courant)

FYI – An hour away from Bridgeport there’s Empire City in Yonkers, which gets a lot of advertising and seems to be doing quite well. Then there is Resorts World, which is right within the 5 boroughs in Queens near Aqueduct Raceway and JFK airport. Monticello Hotel & Casino, and Resorts World Catskills (which opens in 2018, months before MGM Springfield) are similar distances to Bridgeport as the CT tribal casinos, which will pose a threat to anything MGM builds in Bridgeport.

Empire City Casino, Yonkers, NY

New York’s new casinos north of NYC still struggle to bring in the traffic they anticipated, and they would be more competition for MGM Springfield.  Considering the third casino in CT on the CT/MA border, New York State casinos, and Wynn in Boston taking away VIP’s from all of New England’s casinos, one has to see the importance of a MGM property in Bridgeport – not for the betterment of CT residents, but especially for a worried MGM in their northeast expansion.

Speaking of Traffic…

Raise your hands out there if you have driven I-95 from New Haven to the New York State line, vice versa.  C’mon, raise ’em up.

That’s right – it’s horrible.  For commuters, it’s not just driving to work – it’s a non-contact (or sometimes contact) sport. Well guess how that traffic will be if a casino is built in Bridgeport.  Traffic concerns will be exponentially worse – not even considering the 40-mile parking lot it will become on the weekends. MGM has offered no financial help for the already inadequate infrastructure of I-95.  An example of what to look forward to is MGM’s beautiful MGM National Harbor around Washing D.C. When it opened, vehicular traffic to the doubled from 90,000 cars, buses and trucks a week to an astounding 180,000, according to Courtland Milloy of the Washington Post. “The casino has a pretty slick traffic plan once you get on the property, but off-site, it’s nothing more than a nightmare,” so his article says. Expect the same on I-95.

The Cart Before the Horse

There’s one little thing in the way of this proposal.  Right now it would be illegal to build a casino – and heartless to build the hopes of the people of Bridgeport. James Murren said the casino “can help to turn the economic tide of this state [CT]”  The plan requires a change in state law that limits the right to build casinos to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, owners of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.  CT Governor Dannel Malloy said “if the state violates the compact with the tribes, it could lose nearly $500 million over the next two years in revenue from the tribes’ two casinos.” The state gets 25 percent of the slot machine revenue from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun under the compact.  It’s difficult to have to decide between the future economic well-fare of Bridgeport, and the future economic revenue for Connecticut, which Bridgeport would receive benefits from.

MGM, the Casino Industry Powerhouse

Finally, let’s not forget MGM International is a business – a very good business.  Jim Murren has built MGM to a giant in the casino and entertainment industry. It’s power and financial backing is not to be taken lightly.  It’s very difficult to not have a love-hate relationship with MGM International. Here’s how I see it:

  • They offer some of the greatest Hotels & Casinos in America. (Love it)
  • They single-handedly started the demise of the tradition free parking on the Las Vegas Parking (Hate it)
  • They offer some of the best entertainment venues in the country (Love it)
  • Their lack of concern for gambling rules and limits makes it difficult for low to mid rollers (Hate it)
  • They will help the city of Springfield rise from it’s ashes, with the watchful eye of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (Love it)
  • They have said it themselves – MGM is an entertainment company, not a casino company. This does not bode well for cities like Bridgeport looking to raise revenue (Hate it)
  • MGM does create jobs with their casino/resorts.(Love it)
  • MGM seems to be a bully when pushing for casinos in states by excessive lobbying, negative television, mail propaganda, and time consuming tactics to get what they want, not necessarily what’s good for those involved. (Hate it)
  • MGM seems intent on keeping Borgata in Atlantic City the same, as the #1 AC property.(Love it)
  • MGM Supported anti-casino expansion groups in CT over the proposed 3rd casino in East Windsor, only now, having to face them  supporting casino expansion in CT. (Hate it)

The Final Draw

It is still illegal.  Massive changes and considerations are involved. MGM wants you to think it’s the only answer.  The fact is their answer is a stalling tactic on the never-ending suit with the state of CT – rejected by the courts twice already.

Once upon a time, owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, was close to moving the Patriots to Hartford.  It was a scam to get more out of Massachusetts interests to build Gillette Stadium and keep them there.  There are still many that hold a grudge for using CT residents as pawns in his own scheme.

Mr. Murren, please don’t do the same to Connecticut.  People will remember, and MGM Springfield may end up getting the brunt of the Nutmeg State’s ire and resentment.

Binbin