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Bridgeport State Reps Press For Open Gaming Selection

January 24th, 2017 · 24 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Development and Zoning, News and Events

Countering the MGM casino’s economic impact in Springfield MA, state officials are weighing a third casino for Connecticut operated by Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, possibly in Windsor Locks. Bridgeport State Reps Chris Rosario and Ezequiel Santiago want to broaden the search in what they assert is a secretive process. They issued statements on Monday following their submission of legislation to “allow new commercial gaming facilities to be developed in the state, establish a competitive process for licensing, and impose a tax of twenty-five per cent of the annual gross revenue generated at such facilities from slots and table games.”

These gaming proposals are tricky because of the exclusive gaming compacts the state has with the two tribal nation facilities. In 1995 a major casino development proposed for Bridgeport was rejected by the State Senate. Donald Trump, who was not chosen as the Bridgeport casino developer, lobbied against it because it would hamper his Atlantic City casinos. Since that time Connecticut border states have opened casinos lessening the flow of gaming dollars to the state. Casino expansion critics argue that ship has sailed while expansion supporters assert the pie is still large enough for southern Connecticut.

From Rosario:

“We need jobs in Connecticut, and our economy needs help. Connecticut needs an open, competitive process, where the state–and the public–would evaluate competing proposals from world-class developers that must include plans for hiring during all phases of construction and when a casino begins operations. The process we have now is nothing more than a string of missed opportunities and endless secrecy. We need a process that requires detailed proposals from potential developers that would promote local businesses, create jobs, and bring much-needed revenue to our communities and our state. We should not settle for anything short of the best deal possible. The current process doesn’t allow that. We need a new approach, and we need it now.”

>From Santiago:

“Legislation passed two years ago clearly isn’t working for Connecticut. It is time to require a fully transparent process run by the state, where potential casino developers present comprehensive proposals that spell out the hiring process and how area towns will benefit. We need to see competing proposals that outline precisely the dollars that would be paid not only to the state, but to the host community and adjacent municipalities–and where we can get the biggest bang for our buck. We can only decide what’s best for our communities and our residents if we outline specific requirements, and evaluate competitive development proposals. That’s the best way to decide if a commercial casino is the right move for Connecticut–who should build it, and where in the state it should be.”

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24 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Leave the new casino upstate.

  • Follow the Money

    Joint venture with the Tribes for 2500 slots only at Shoreline Star.

  • Jeff Kohut

    I think we have plenty of evidence from the examples of Atlantic City and Las Vegas about the realistic expectations of casino/gambling-driven economies. Even our own two, mammoth, Native American casinos are still in the doldrums (after the Bush 43 Depression of 2008). And with gambling opportunities sprouting up in every nook and cranny of the US, no state or city is going to get very far from casino momentum.

    And in Connecticut, with its high unemployment/underemployment, relatively low wages (for working people in a ridiculously expensive state), the temptation to get ahead by gambling poses a very serious threat to family financial integrity.

    More gambling isn’t what Connecticut needs.

    Gambling is not going to help us. (And tolls and parking meters aren’t going to help us either.)

    I would urge Reps Santiago and Rosario to redirect their energetic efforts on Bridgeport’s behalf toward promoting the development of good manufacturing jobs in Bridgeport. We have a fully equipped, idle ship-building facility on our harbor. There are companies looking at such locations for ship building/repair operations. Reach out to them and try to get something moving there during this legislative session.

    It’s good to see our state reps taking proactive steps for Bridgeport, but let’s be a little circumspect in the use of our political capital in Hartford (and DC).

    • Donald Day

      Jeff, what does Bridgeport have to lose by bringing a casino here? The Native Americans are going to build somewhere so why not here? Casino’s may not be the answer to our financial struggles and the Atlantic City casinos may be failing, but what does Bridgeport have to lose? It will bring in jobs city residents and people of color need, so what do we have to lose?

      Manufacturing jobs would be ideal, but until those jobs come back, which some people think will never happen, what does Bridgeport have to lose? Some land that for the most part has been vacant for two decades that hasn’t brought on any taxes to the city. What has Bridgeport have to lose by a casino coming here?

      • John Marshall Lee

        Ron, if you were an investment advisor, your b/d would probably not be pleased with you repeating the words, “What have you got to lose?” to your prospects. Because any project requiring land, preparation, building, etc. will probably come in for its share of regulatory hurdles, but most importantly we do not wnat another move in a false direction, do we?

        Ganim2 asked for a “second chance” spouting words like STOP RAISING TAXES, which the public thought we understood. Instead he turned that phrase into an early edition of “alternative facts” for Bridgeport taxpayers. He also talked about OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT process trying to leave an impression, but little has changed in the City in those regards and some communities who supported him perhaps heard those same words, or a variant, “What have you got to lose?” and now understand better the full meaning. What’s the best thing we could do with City-owned property that is not paying taxes, functioning at all or limited in impact? How about a listing of all, somewhere on the City website? Post the current use and all details as if you were selling to a high bidder. Imagine what people will think when they consider the values in owning these parcels and operating City government there at what expense? A useless or wasted exercise, some may say, but why? We have folks ready to look at fresh data and bring forth ideas beyond those who get a paycheck for the same responsibilities. Ron, to use your question in this context appropriately, “What have we got to lose?” Time will tell.

  • Frank Gyure

    I don’t believe casino gambling is one of the answers for Bridgeport. As Jeff Kohut pointed out, the level of business and revenues to the State from the PRESENT Indian casino operation show a weakness to this “casino” argument. The fact these two legislators are going down this road shows they have not done their homework. Not only are the Indian casinos having difficult times but the situation in Atlantic City is a horror story. I believe the State of New Jersey had to take over operating the CITY of Atlantic City. Casino gambling is a dead end.

    • Frank Gyure

      I see declining revenues. Follow the Money, if you have any other interpretation of the website that you posted, PLEASE SHARE WITH US.

      • Follow the Money

        Frank–the biggest casino in the state is the Connecticut Lottery Corporation. You shouldn’t forego slot revenue if through a convenience gaming slot model to bump up the revenue. Doesn’t it make cents to try to bring in more revenue? Might I also add that lower revenues affect our Bridgeport budget from the Pequot-Mohegan Fund. You could also negotiate a higher host city rate for Bridgeport. How about legalizing Fantasy Sports via a parimutuel model to attract millennial gamers?

  • Steven Auerbach

    Congratulations to Mayor Joe Ganim for moving to downtown Bridgeport. I am surprised it hasn’t been on OIB, but I certainly believe this is a brilliant move. They did a magnificent job on the interior of this building.

  • Steven Auerbach

    As for the casino, I will repeat what I have said before. Bridgeport will not benefit from one. Enough fantasy!

  • Jeff Kohut

    Donald: Bridgeport has a lot to lose by bringing a casino here. Just ask the people in Norwich and New London what casinos have done to their illegal drug use/drug addiction problems, violent crime/street crime rates, DWI problems, domestic violence problems, family poverty problems; and they have a fairly large distance between the casinos and their towns. But the casinos are close enough to lure vulnerable residents to the glamor and promise of easy money/easy fix to financial problems and poverty. And the gambling money attracted by the casinos from distances finds its way into their towns, along with gambling/drug and alcohol addicted gamblers (gambling addiction and substance abuse have a high co-morbidity rate).

    No, Donald: A poor community like Bridgeport might gain a handful of low-paying services jobs from a Bridgeport casino, but it would lose a lot more and wind up with a lot more poor and homeless and gambling/drug addicted people.

    Bridgeport has a lot to lose from a Bridgeport-based casino. Not to even mention the crowding-out of more appropriate jobs and tax base through misappropriated land and infrastructure. Again, look at Atlantic City, in particular.

    • Robert Teixeira

      I have to chime in on this one. Jeff, you’re asking to bring back manufacturing. News flash, if you do some research or read Lennie’s book Only in Bridgeport, you will see Bridgeport was steeped in Manufacturing. When you do your research I recommend purchasing an updated version of Only in Bridgeport.) They left Bridgeport for a reason, and it is why Bridgeport is in the state it is in. They tried to bring it back and it failed. Investing in a ship manufacturing company is not like opening up a restaurant and then changing its name every year or so.
      You talked about how Atlantic City’s demise was based on gaming. First, Atlantic City has a land area smaller than Bridgeport and hosted like 13 casinos. Second, gaming economy is based on people’s discretionary spending income. Third, Stamford has seen an increase crime and all that you have aforementioned that a casino will bring to Bridgeport. Yet they don’t have casinos. So what is the cause for their increase in crime?
      Haven’t you always claimed Stamford is getting development that Bridgeport should have, and the Gold Coast is blocking it for our cheap labor pool? I guess it’s not about crime you aforementioned as long as Bridgeport’s economic salvation comes for a boat that suits you.
      Done properly it will be an economic engine for Bridgeport’s growth based on an entertainment destination. Day, Jeff’s New London claim is BS. Sorry, Lisa. Bam I’m out.

  • Donald Day

    Jeff, that certainly sound ominous, but what can you offer other than anecdotal evidence, if you talk to the people. What empirical data do you have that would bolster your assertion the casinos bought drug use and crime to New London, which is 20 miles away.

    What I am sure about is there are a myriad of Bridgeport residents who would love to have a job that pays $15 an hour, that they can get to as easy as a short bus ride. Jeff, you say the people of Bridgeport would get the lower-paying jobs, but isn’t that what they are getting in the Ganim administration? How many department heads are Bridgeport residents? I know a few people who got jobs at both Bass Pro and Chipotle and they all say it’s not the best job in the world but it’s better than what they had. See, it’s people who have a great standard of living, a good job and a bright future who are always saying what’s best for the people who don’t have what we have. Jobs is what the people want and what they need and if a casino job is that which moves them closer to the elusive American dream then do that until a better opportunity shows its face.

  • Frank Gyure

    TO ALL THOSE WHO THINK CASINO GAMBLING IS AN ANSWER TO BRIDGEPORT’S ECONOMIC ILLS, please Google and do some research and find the economic impact of casino gambling on Atlantic City. It’s a horror story. Atlantic City NJ is in even worse shape (fiscally, crime, economic development) than Bridgeport. Sorry, casino gambling is NOT the answer.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Donald, here is a recent study on the effects of the two casinos on the region. There are several on the regional impact of these two casinos, and many on the impact of casinos on surrounding areas worldwide. None of the studies bode well for residential life. See
    link:
    casinofreenh.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Excerpts-from-The-Impacts-of-Gambling-in-CT.pdf

    A quick Google search will yield many, many credible studies on this issue, including crime
    stats/trends that are impossible to misinterpret. Donald, last week you asked for empirical evidence indicating that poverty conditions render increase in school budgets cost-ineffective. Please check out the following three links:
    www .cbsnews.com/news/us-education-spending-tops-global-list-study-shows/

    www .brookings.edu/research/why-federal-spending-on-disadvantaged-students-title-i-doesnt-work/

    education.seattlepi.com/statistics-poverty-affects-children-schools-3636.html

    • Robert Teixeira

      Jeff, this report states New London is not really impacted by the casinos. All this increase in crime, like most crime, is personal responsibility. Norwich sees the brunt of the impact to the casinos because the casinos were built in the f$#king woods. They had no host city with the labor force for them. We have the cheap labor pool “thanks” to your Gold Coast. The key word here is personal responsibility. You’re saving the irresponsible minority from themselves by punishing the majority who would the benefit from the jobs and revenue casinos will bring to city and state. I won’t argue law enforcement will have to step up its game like not leaving an assault rifle in their unlocked car. The advance in technology should help with the task (what is our second chief up to?). It’s the only boat the city has based on your assessment of Stamford/Greenwich Gold Coast is fighting tooth and nail to keep Bridgeport down, because they seem to be doing a hell of a job.
      Bam I’m out. Bye, Lisa. :)

  • Robert Teixeira

    PS Jeff, as you can see crime has been steadily going down in Connecticut since we opened our first casino in 1993. The money it generates benefits all of the state. This is not solely about Bridgeport benefiting from it, but the state as well. If you really want to have a conversation about crime let’s talk about the root cause of it, poverty, I would say drugs, while it is a factor, however Chris Rock summed it up best. “I don’t have a drug problem because I can afford it.” Rich people who can afford all the drugs they want don’t have to commit any crimes to get it.
    www .disastercenter.com/crime/ctcrime.htm

    When you speak about domestic violence, let’s have a real conversation about that too. Cheating is a factor but not the root cause. Emotion is, be it love or anger. But mostly anger within, for when it comes to love it’s the anger of lost love. Anger within men generally stems from phallus size and where they want to erect it. Literally speaking whatever size phallus they have, at some point in time it’s going to turn into a colonoscopy examination. (Once you go brown you can’t turn around.) Everyone’s phallus regardless of stature will have a colonoscopy examination. I’m not a bright person and if I were going to have a colonoscopy examination, I would want the scope to be as small as possible. The mental imagery needed to culminate its conclusion will never change. No matter what doctor’s office it’s performed in. HANDEDLY I say. Ladies, you’re welcome.

    Moreover, Anger comes in many forms exacerbated by many addictive substances such as drugs, alcohol, pills etc. That creates a harmful and destructive behavior. This is why I’m for the legalization of marijuana. Pot tends to mitigate anger and it has other medical benefits as well. It’s a sin against humanity that is not as easily forgiven like sins the flash for the Federal Government to say and classify marijuana on the same level of opium yet allow synthetic opium medication in the form of OxyContin distributed by the worse drug deals in the world because most patients go to them for help, expecting to cured of the pain and suffering not pumped up on pills and turned into an addict. They are not going to an alley to purchase something they know its harmful effects. Or even cigarettes and alcohol to be sold that has a far more negative impact on society than weed will ever have.
    www .youtube.com/watch?v=kFnFr-DOPf8

    Sorry Lisa, I’m fair. I’ll try to keep my promise. BAM I’M OUT. :)

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