MGM Winning the Battle in CT by Outspending the Rest

Hold The Demolition!

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)

    Bridgeport, CT – MGM casino quest

  • 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.”

Connecticut State Capitol

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?

  1. Bids are due by Jan. 1.
  2. The proposals also must show the bidders are able to pay a one-time $50 million licensing fee to the state.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. MMCT gets their casino, the mess continues, but to no avail.
  3. 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.

 

 

CT Casino Bill Changes Bring More Questions than Answers

image(20)MoSun SignThe bill to expand casino gaming in CT due to the posed threats by future Massachusetts casinos continues to go through changes.  Now, a two-step process for possibly opening a new tribal casino in Connecticut faces a vote in the state House of Representatives.

Step 1 – the tribes would issue a request for proposals to municipalities interested in hosting one satellite casino, most likely in northern Connecticut along the Interstate 1 corridor to help combat the planned MGM Resort casino in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts.

Step 2 – Any development agreement reached between the tribes and the community, following various local approvals, would have to be reviewed by the Attorney General and governor’s office. Ultimately, a new casino could not operate until the General Assembly amends state law to allow casino gambling.

The existing two tribal casinos are located on sovereign tribal land. A casino outside of tribal land brings many other considerations into question.

Patty McQueen, a spokeswoman for the two tribes, said both respect everyone’s position on the legislation, but stressed that the bill is about allowing the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes to retain jobs and revenue in Connecticut.

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But I have other questions, outside the box if you will – both from the large picture state approach and from the individual gambler’s approach.

1)  Will this allow more gambling, privatized from the gambling industry?  Could Caesars Entertainment (who have teamed up with tribes in North Carolina & California), add  another to support Indian Tribes like the Shaticokes or Eastern Pequots for example?  Remember, the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) is looking into easing the process of federally recognition.  Interesting that the biggest opposition to to this is Dam Malloy and the State of CT.

2)  The anti-gambling community always has a great interest in saving CT citizens from gambling addiction – certainly a valid concern.  But won’t those who are enticed by additional a casino only 20 to 40 minutes away in Massachusetts.  MGM Springfield is definitely closer and easier to get to than CT’s tribal casinos in southeastern CT. Does a half hour make a difference?

3)  What are all these jobs CT will be losing if they don’t build another casino?  Vendors, suppliers, casino staff?  I would like to know about the specifics Connecticut is expected to lose that one casino will save.

4)  How will the two tribes play this out?  Obviously, some prefer Foxwoods, some prefer the Sun.  How will comp points be affected?  This may seem like a little consideration, but the place they spend their money it is as important to many gamblers as which part of CT are Red Sox or Yankees fans.

5)  I know this is far down the line, and could be a moot point, but…….will it have a hotel? How will it compete with MGM for the recreational gambler and the advantage gambler’s attention.  Night clubs?  Restaurants?  So much that should be considered NOW if it is given a green light now so the end result is a not half-thought-out version for the State of CT anti gaming groups to say “I told you so.”

So little time, yet so much at stake on both sides.  And still, so many questions……

That;’s all for now.

Binbin

 

CT ” Satellite” Casino – East Hartford as Good as Any Place

 

The Old Showcase Cinemas, East Hartford, CT

The Old Showcase Cinemas, East Hartford, CT

I drove by it in East Hartford during my college days, right off of I-84, a couple miles away from I-91 – “SHOWCASE CINEMAS.” Built in the early 70’s with 4 screens, the theater was expanded and renovated through the years to a 14 screen multiplex of Hollywood’s finest and, well, not so finest movies.  At the time, it was huge – at a time when people could afford to go to the movies, and Netflix was just beginning it’s rental-DVD-by-mail thing, competing with Blockbuster Rentals and all the new Movie Multiplex theaters for the film-buff’s money.

Well, it has been dormant for almost ten years.  But it may be resurrected to battle again, only this time for the public’s gambling bucks. Developers are proposing to convert the former Showcase Cinemas complex into a casino.  Right now, the state is weighing whether to allow Connecticut’s two Native American tribes to open three additional casinos to help fight off the financial threat from Massachusetts, where a casino is under construction in Springfield.

According to Matt Austin of NBC CT, the casino would cost $140 million and include 1,000 gaming machines, along with several restaurants and bars, and would create about 240 jobs with a payroll of about $10 million.

Austin reports Tony Ravosa Jr., president of the Vince Group, which has put in a bid to develop the casino, saying “There’s an opportunity here in terms of speed to market, moving this project along very quickly. I think it’s important for Connecticut to get up and running fast. We certainly have the place, location to do that.”

Traffic? – not a problem.  Silver Lane in East Hartford would love the traffic after long out-living it’s place for commerce years ago.  As an economic boost, this might have the same positive effect as MGM Springfield is expected to have.  Interesting they may be battling for the same patrons.

Discussions continue in CT between the tribes, the legislature and possible host towns for these “Satellite Casinos.”

That’s all for now.

Binbin