Connecticut Casino Proposal Expected to Compete With MGM Springfield

Posted on: January 3, 2017, 01:03h. 

Last updated on: January 3, 2017, 01:14h.

Another Connecticut casino could soon be on the way should the state’s General Assembly approve a forthcoming proposal presented jointly by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes.

The Native American groups are trying to make sure gambling revenue in the state remains there, and doesn’t flow north into Massachusetts where MGM Resorts is building a $950 million casino resort in Springfield. The Constitution State’s legislature reconvenes this week, and a variety of issues will be on the floor including gambling and the potential legalization of marijuana.

Connecticut casino Dannel Malloy
Lawmakers are considering allowing a third Connecticut casino to be built, after Governor Dannel Malloy warned that new revenue streams are needed to fund the state’s budget. (Image: Office of Governor Dannel Malloy)

The Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes are the only two federally recognized Native American groups in the state. They each currently have one casino, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

Like so many other states, Connecticut is strapped for cash. While Governor Dannel Malloy (D) won’t reveal his fiscal plan for the next two years until February, he’s already warned legislators to look for new ways to grow revenue.

Gambling on Casinos

As is the case across much of the northeast, resort-style casino gambling is seen as one way to increase tax money. Hartford is facing a deficit of at least $1.4 billion, and bringing a third casino to the state could help offset some of those losses.

Just miles across the state’s northern border, MGM Springfield is hoping to capitalize off not only those in Massachusetts, but also Connecticut’s wealthy clientele in areas such as Hartford and other northern communities. Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun both reside in the southeast corner of the state.

The two tribes are expected to collaborate on the third potential casino property. Lawmakers have already approved another gambling destination, but the sovereign groups must first obtain authorization for any plans before building.

“We are fully aware of the negative impact MGM’s facility will have on both jobs and revenue,” Andrew Doba, a spokesman representing the two tribes said last fall.

South Windsor, East Windsor, Hartford, East Hartford, and Windsor Locks are all being considered. The resort is likely to come at a cost of around $200 to $300 million.

Big Bets, Big Revenue

Since Connecticut legalized its two casinos in 1993, brick-and-mortar gambling has delivered nearly $7 billion to the state’s General Fund.

As sovereign establishments, Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan don’t pay taxes to the state. However, they do contribute 25 percent of their slot machine win to the General Fund.

During the 2015/2016 fiscal year, Connecticut received $118.4 million from Foxwoods and $147.4 million from Mohegan Sun. MGM is betting on bringing visitors in from Connecticut, as Springfield is riddled with crime and was ranked the second most dangerous metro in the northeast last year.

The Connecticut Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) said in October that the MGM property will cost the state $68.3 million annually.

The OFA opined that less bets will be placed at its two casinos, and that will directly reduce its take. The office also said 9,300 jobs could be at stake should less visitors travel to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

Placing a third casino in the northern central portion of the state would appease that forecasted reality.