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Against The Odds, Rosario And Santiago Push For Bridgeport Casino

March 2nd, 2017 · 15 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Development and Zoning, News and Events

MGM Springfield

Rendering of MGM Resorts, under construction in Springfield.

Proponents of casino expansion in Bridgeport–irrespective of Connecticut’s two tribal nations joining forces for a third state casino in East Windsor to protect their interests from MGM Resorts International’s Springfield, Massachusetts enterprise–are not giving up, according to Bridgeport State Rep. Chris Rosario who says a bill to open up the gaming process will be heard next week.

“I would like legislation that allows Bridgeport to be able to consider bringing in development and studies show that southwestern Connecticut would bring in more jobs and revenue from the New York market versus eating up Connecticut resident dollars,” he says. “I believe that there is a vibe to at least explore the options.”

Rosario is referring to proposed legislation before the state legislature’s Public Safety Committee that calls for a “competitive process to issue a gaming license.”

From the gaming bill:

On or before October 1, 2017, the commissioner shall develop and issue a request for proposals for the development, management and operation of a possible casino gaming facility in the state. The request for proposals shall require any person or business organization submitting a proposal to provide an outline of the significant benefits that the proposed gaming facility will bring to the municipality in which the casino gaming facility may be located, the surrounding municipalities and the state, and a plan to attract both residents and tourists to the casino gaming facility.

Does the bill have a pulse?

About 25 years ago, then Governor Lowell Weicker entered the state into a gaming compact that provided exclusivity in exchange for the state receiving 25 percent of the slot take from tribal nation casinos. Break the compact and the money spigot ends, unless the tribal nations–as was the case 22 years ago when a gaming bill for Bridgeport was rejected by the State Senate–are part of the deal or the economic benefits transcend the gaming compact dough. Bridgeport has benefited financially from that gaming compact, with millions coming in annually, but Bridgeport gaming proponents assert the city is missing out from the larger economic benefits that come with being a host community.

Gaming expansion is a grueling sell without the tribal nations who run Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun part of the mix. But there’s a new wrinkle in their partnership, the East Windsor location is off sovereign land, as noted by MGM Resorts. How does that jibe with the gaming compact?

Could the tribal nations become a partner in a Bridgeport satellite facility? Connecticut is already one of the biggest bookies in the country. Give them a piece and it doesn’t break the compact.

What could be a potential Bridgeport location? Winners Shoreline Star on Kossuth Street, the former jai-alai and dog track location and current parimutuel simulcast facility that’s already a licensed gaming venue. Advocates say it’s built as a potential satellite slot location within walking distance from the Bass Pro Shops that anchors the Steel Point redevelopment area.

MGM Resorts lobbyists–to protect its north Connecticut market–make the case that Bridgeport is a stronger location for a gaming facility given the city’s transportation nexus and accessible wealthy suburbs: let Connecticut’s tribal nations expand there.

Not a likely scenario but Rosario and his State House colleague Ezequiel Santiago both represent the area. They’re not giving up.

The Connecticut Post editorial page is also urging the state legislature to approve a casino for Bridgeport. See here.

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15 Comments so far ↓

  • Jimfox

    Tom Gill should RFP all three casinos, MGM, Foxwoods, and Mohegan Sun.
    Remington with a new train station in the heart of this city would be the best place to locate a casino. It has easy excess from I-95, the ferry boat and now a new train station.
    The Shot Tower Casino can be seen from I-95 and just like Bass Pro will draw thousands of people to it.

    It’s a fabulous location that doesn’t need a whole lot of approvals to clean up the property or to build a bridge to get there.
    New York State now has 21 casinos and employs tens of thousands of people.
    When we started talking about a casino for Bridgeport, New York had just seven.
    If Mr. Clinton is right and I think he is, we owe it to ourselves to create jobs for Bridgeport!

    • Joel Gonzalez

      “About 25 years ago, then Governor Lowell Weicker entered the state into a gaming compact that provided exclusivity in exchange for the state receiving 25 percent of the slot take from tribal nation casinos.”

      Come on Lennie, is that all you can recall? Didn’t a majority of the State Representatives and the State Senators vote to send the bill to Gov. Weicker’s desk for his signature? Remember Representative Americo Santiago? Yes, Representative Ezequiel Santiago’s father voted in favor of the gaming compact.

  • Mojo

    Not a chance in hell, with the odds stacked up high against a casino in the Park City. *** Forgetaboutit ***

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      From the outside looking in. Nationwide your mayor has a very negative reputation, and it reflects on the city as a whole. Trust, reputation and perception are not currently a positive for Bridgeport.

  • Jimfox

    I do believe Bridgeport has Blackjack!!!
    If the State is considering a commercial asino for Mohegan and Foxwoods, an off-reservation operation in Hartford, this City better pull up a chair and yell “Deal me in!”
    If Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun want off the reservation, the next casino in this State should be in Bridgeport. If the State awards Foxwoods and Mohegan a commercial casino, that would be a direct violation of the compacts and both tribes “speak with forked tongues!”

  • Follow the Money

    I think today’s CT Post Editorial Says It All!

    “This time around, a casino for Bridgeport”

  • Steven Auerbach

    The picture looks nice. Don’t believe it will happen. Jennifer Buchanon, I do not think people 30 miles away from our city have any perception at all. I do not think Joe Ganim is remembered 35 miles away. I wouldn’t use the negative reputation as the issue. The city does have an issue with too many blighted properties and not enough contiguous acreage to build. Steelpointe would be an absolute NO as well as Pleasure Beach.

  • Stringfellow

    This idea was floated many years ago when Mr. Rosario was a child. Steve Wynn and Trump wanted a casino here. We all are well aware what did not happen and the many excuses why.

    Looking at the current economy now and the closure of casinos in New Jersey, why even consider this idea again? Something needs to be done with the dog track, but what? You have the vacant property next to it where the factory burned down. How long is that property going to sit vacant?

    The reputation of the city has not helped with any serious growth to put a dent in the mil rate and people have long memories. Despite the key ingredients that Bridgeport has, water, rail and I-95 it has not been able to get things going. No major decision has been made to dredge the harbor. How long is the can going to kicked down the road? It’s going to get done or it isn’t.

    There have been too many ideas floated on one thing or another for Bridgeport but in the end that is all they are. Not too many of us know what is going on behind closed doors. We do see the vacant properties, the ever-growing mil rate and crime.

    Nice try Mr. Rosario, just try something else.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    The state is not going to lose guaranteed monies from the Indians to put a casino in Bridgeport.

  • charlie

    Santiago, Rosario and Gomes had better show up on Thursday the 9th and fight like hell for Bridgeport or never run for office again.

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