Third Connecticut Casino Announcement Has All Ears Piqued in Northeast

Posted on: February 24, 2017, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: February 24, 2017, 01:54h.

A planned Connecticut casino will reveal its targeted location for construction in the coming days, and the impending announcement has the ears of all vested gaming interests operating in the northeast.

Connecticut casino MGM Springfield
MGM Springfield in Massachusetts is causing quite a stir, as another Connecticut casino is in the works to offset the impact of the megaresort. (Image: MGM Springfield)

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Native American tribes are working together to bring the Constitution State a third casino venue. The joint venture is in response to MGM Springfield, the $950 million resort currently under construction in southern Massachusetts.

State lawmakers permitted the two tribal groups to build a third casino off their sovereign lands in order to keep gambling revenue in the state and protect jobs.

The Mashantucket and Mohegan people are considering building in the northern part of the state in the towns of Windsor Locks or East Windsor. That would place the Connecticut casino just 15 miles from MGM Springfield.

With MGM, state lawmakers, and residents anxiously waiting, the tribes say the official announcement of the casino will be revealed in the coming days. “We’re days, not weeks or months . . . from announcing a decision,” Mohegan Chairman Kevin Brown said this week.

MGM States the Obvious

Once the Native American coalition pinpoints its gaming location, the state legislature will need to sign off on the construction. The facility is expected to cost around $300 million.

During a General Assembly Public Safety and Security Committee hearing this week, MGM officials opined that they believe the third casino should be placed in the southwestern part of the state. The gaming company based in Las Vegas told the committee that a gambling venue near the New York border would be an ideal spot for the facility.

Governor Dannel Malloy (D) was quick to respond with a bit of sarcasm, “I’m shocked that MGM would say that based on their investment.”

The Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos are both located in the eastern part of the state.

Foxwoods President Felix Rappaport told the committee that MGM is “one of the best in the business.” Though he had nothing but praise for MGM, the gaming executive cited a study that found the Springfield resort will cause the two Connecticut casinos to lose $702 million in revenue in the first three years after it opens.

Tribes in Control

Connecticut is the third-smallest state in terms of land area, and when it comes to potential suitors for its third casino, its options are also very small. That’s because the state will have a hard time justifying taking bids from other gaming entities other than the two tribes due to their compacts.

Under their current agreements, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun share their slot revenue with the state in exchange for gaming exclusivity. That equates to about $200 million being delivered to Hartford each year.

If Connecticut were to allow another tribe or gambling party to build, the compact would be annulled and the $200 million would disappear. MGM says a robust casino resort in southern Connecticut would more than offset the loss.

The odds seem to favor the legislature approving the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan project. It’s likely a quicker, easier solution to keeping gambling money inside state borders and out of MGM Springfield.