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

 

 

Casinos in New England – By The Numbers

NewEnglandFINALHotel, Gambling, Dining, Entertainment and Retail Facts of All New England Casinos are provided here to answer questions pertaining to all seven casinos.

Click on each Link below to see the statistics of each casino, or click on the summary of all seven for an instant comparison.

Connecticut Casino Facts

Rhode Island Casino Facts

Massachusetts Casino Facts

Maine Casino Facts

Full  Casino Comparison

As in all pages of information such as this, numbers may vary slightly or even change as time passes.

Your help is needed!  If you find added table games, dining info, or changes of any kind in any of this information, say hello and send us a comment.  Let us know!

Your NETG Staff – Bin, Miguel, & Bert.

Mohegan Sun Resort Casino

Mohegan Sun Resort Casino, Uncasville, CT

Foxwoods Resort Casino

Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, CT

Plainridge Park Casino

Plainridge Park Casino, Plainville, MA

Twin River Casino, Lincoln, RI

Quiet morning at Newport Grand, Newport, RI

Oxford Casino at Night

Oxford Casino, Oxford, ME

Hollywood Casino, Hotel & Raceway, Bangor Maine

Hollywood Casino, Bangor, Maine

 

Connecticut’s 3rd Casino Approved – MGM Objections to Continue

It seems we have come full circle concerning MGM and their opposition to Connecticut’s casino expansion.

It was March of 2015 when the two tribes in CT asked for permission to build a casino off I-91 near the Massachusetts line to intercept patrons on their way to MGM Springfield, hoping it would be done and open by 2017.  MGM Springfield, a $950 million casino is a major threat to force more declining revenue of Connecticut’s gambling industry and impact the local economy by reducing employment opportunities.

MGM Springfield Downtown

Well it’s 2017, and CT is finally seeing it’s expansion come to life.  But, it will surely fizzle if MGM International has anything to do about it.

The two tribes that  were enemies and then competitors for centuries even when they were allowed to build two of the largest casinos in country, offering the only Las Vegas style resort gaming in the Northeast outside of Atlantic City, are now in it for the long-haul together.

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

A third casino in CT gets ready to move forward.  MMCT, the Mohegan Sun and Mashantucket Pequots tribes’ combined venture is soon to get the Governor’s backing, completing the state’s blessing for a new casino in East Windsor.

In two years of fighting, litigation, television commercials, community propaganda and interesting surveys to support their findings, MGM has thrown everything they could at the casino wall, hoping for anything to stick and sway the people of CT and their legislators.

The first attempt by MGM was a lawsuit challenging the exclusive right for the two tribes to jointly operate and build a competing casino. MGM insisted they could make money in CT (even though they pulled out of joint venture with Foxwoods) and that the casino bill violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. A federal judge in January of 2016 dismissed the company’s lawsuit to block the state of Connecticut’s 2015 tribal gaming act.

At the same time, MGM backed the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, in Kent, CT – officially recognized by the state but not the federal government – to sue the state of Connecticut’s bill, claiming they had a right to a casino.  But land claims, the lack of federal recognition and then the resurrection of the law suit all dismissed again recently seem enough to keep the Schaghticoke demands futile.

Seal of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs

Seal of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs

MGM then sought help from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, stating that a casino off tribal land would break the original agreement from 1993, saying that approving this bill would sever the pact for 25% of the slot revenue to the state. MMCT assured legislators that the proposed construction of a third casino would not jeopardize any gambling agreements reached between the state and the two tribes in 2016 & recently when the BIA agreed.

Officials from the two tribes provided legislators in 2016 with copies from a letter sent by the current Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the country’s Department of Interior stating that the existing gambling compact, under the terms of which Connecticut is provided with 25% of net revenue from slot machines in return for securing the two tribes with the exclusive rights to operate gambling venues within the state’s borders, would not be affected by the opening of a third casino.”

Two bills were eventually issued to the CT legislature earlier this year – one for the MMCT joint venture on the CT/MA border, and one outlining an equal bidding process for a casino in the southwest part of the state (where MGM could possily bid and build a casino). MGM continued to televise ads in CT under the moniker of MGMConecticut.org, trying to persuade CT’s residents of the need for equal bidding for a casino license, saying 71% of the state’s surveyed residents were in favor of an open bidding process.  All the local TV stations, all hours of the day were not enough to change the representatives vote.  Where is that 71% (of whatever sample size) when MGM needs them?

MGM has waged an all out war to try to save its interests across the border.  Whether or not is is to save MGM’s chances for a casino in CT, or just continuous stalling tactics while preparing for MGM Springfield to open,  MGM has had a five-prong attack:

  1. a legal fight in federal court,
  2. lobbying at the Connecticut State Capitol,
  3. bringing the fight to Congress
  4. instigating the Schaghticoke Tribe in Kent, CT to legally pursue it’s right to the casino pie – have proved fruitless in trying to block the construction of a third tribal casino thus far
  5. influence the people of CT to consider an open bidding process

Results?

  1. The federal court and the BIA has already thrown out MGM’s previous lawsuit
  2. Lobbying at the state capital didn’t succeed in bringing about the open bidding process
  3. The CT Senate, House, and soon Governor Malloy, approve the process for the MMCT casino in East Windsor.

I say MGM’s main purpose in all of this was to stall – because the urban casino they are building is a questionable success.  It will be great for MGM, but will it be good for Springfield?  Remember, MGM and CEO Jim Murren himself has said they are in the hotel and entertainment business, not the casino business.  How does Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission feel about their revenue being secondary in MGM’s plan?

Cinema in East Windsor for proposed casino.

Cinema in East Windsor for proposed casino.

MGM Springfield is in a much smaller city, and it will go up MMCT’s Mohegan Sun / Foxwoods casino in East Hartford and will continue to feel pressure from Plainridge Park Casino, the only open casino in Massachusetts. New York projects near western Mass. and Wynn’s Boston Harbor Casino/Resort will definitely tug at Springfield’s bottom line.  MGM said in 2016 that they didn’t believe in a ceiling on  gamblers discretionary funds and were not concerned with the possible saturation of casinos – do they still believe that?

Now, MGM is back to square one, leaning on the judicial branch to stop MMCT in East Windsor. I think I can still hear someone speaking in the wind from Springfield, “just stall, I don’t care how, just stall….”

And that, my friends is a complete circle.

Binbin