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.
“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.”
“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.”