Connecticut Tribes and Bridgeport Officials Discussing $350M Casino Resort
Posted on: May 31, 2019, 09:38h.
Last updated on: May 31, 2019, 09:38h.
Connecticut’s two tribes and officials in Bridgeport are in discussions to bring a $350 million integrated casino resort to the seaport city.
The Connecticut Post broke the news that Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim (D), several state legislators, and tribal officials representing the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes held several meetings this week to negotiation a deal. The Connecticut General Assembly and Governor Ned Lamont (D) would need to sign off on legislation before such a casino could be fully authorized.
We’re trying to find a happy medium that is good for the state, good for the tribal nations, and good for the city of Bridgeport,” Rep. Chris Rosario (D-Bridgeport) explained. “The idea of the city of Bridgeport settling for a slot box or some parlor is out.”
Early reports suggest the tribal casino in Bridgeport would feature a minimum of 2,000 slot machines, 100 table games, 500-room hotel, spa, restaurants, and retail shopping.
Connecticut is presently home to perhaps the most complicated current legal gaming industry battle. The clash involves the two tribes against MGM Resorts, which has argued that the state should hold a competitive bidding process if it wants to expand gaming – not simply award new operations to the Native American groups.
Bridge to Nowhere
Connecticut’s General Assembly adjourns for the year next week. Lamont said earlier this month that while the state is indeed working with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes on developing a Bridgeport casino, there won’t be any gambling-related legislation passed before June 5.
“We’re trying to get something done, but we’re not going to get it done in this session,” Lamont declared. “We’ve had a very strong bond and contract going back well over a generation.”
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that contract stays intact. We are working together going forward,” the governor explained.
That isn’t good news for MGM, which proposed a $675 million casino complex in Bridgeport last year. The bid was in response to Connecticut signing off in 2017 on allowing the tribes to build a satellite casino in East Windsor – just 13 miles south across the Connecticut-Massachusetts border from MGM’s $960 million Springfield casino.
After months of delays by the US Department of the Interior, which refused to approve or deny the state’s amendments to its gaming compacts with the tribes, the federal agency finally gave the greenlight for the East Windsor development in March 2019.
The tribes – and Connecticut’s congressional delegation – blamed the delay on lobbying by MGM.
With federal authorization, the tribes paid the state $1 million to help offset regulatory costs, and is moving forward with construction. The satellite – known as Tribal Winds – is a $300 million casino that will offer 1,800 slots and 60 tables.
The casino on non-sovereign land is designed to keep critical slot revenue in the state, and away from MGM Springfield. Connecticut coffers receive 25 percent of the tribes’ slot win. That total has plummeted from $430 million in 2007 to $263.6 million last year.
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