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City Residents Support MGM Casino Proposal

October 2nd, 2017 · 14 Comments · Development and Zoning, News and Events

MGM Bridgeport

Rendering of proposed MGM Bridgeport.

Bridgeport residents overwhelmingly support a $675 million waterfront destination resort casino at the Steelpointe Harbor development area, as proposed by MGM Resorts International, according to a new public opinion survey. Nearly three-quarters (74%) favor building the resort casino while 18 percent oppose it. The survey was conducted by The Mellman Group on behalf of MGM. The survey included 500 registered voters in the city, a representative sample used in most public opinion polls. It was conducted September 20-24. A registration-based sample was utilized, which included cell phones and landlines, and used live interviews. The statistical margin of error is +/-4% at the 95% level of confidence, according to the survey. See questionnaire here.

MGM poll chart

MGM is trying to make the case that its economic impact on the state would be greater than the current monopoly relationship Connecticut has with two tribal nations that provide 25 percent of the slot take in exchange for exclusive gaming rights.

State finances are hemorrhaging badly with MGM positioning itself as an alternative to the state’s gaming compact with the tribal nations that operate Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Gaming payments to the state have dwindled in recent years coinciding with a lagging economy.

More info on the poll in this MGM news release:

The widespread support is driven by key factors that more than 7 in 10 residents view as very important, according to the survey: the creation of thousands of jobs in the region including jobs for Bridgeport residents, annual payments by MGM to Bridgeport ($8 million) and neighboring communities ($4.5 million), no tax dollars would be spent on construction or operations, and the state will receive payments from casino revenue.

“The overwhelming support is a clear signal to state policy makers that Connecticut needs to update its antiquated gaming policy to take advantage of the job-creating and economy-expanding opportunity that is MGM Bridgeport, said Uri Clinton, MGM Resorts International Senior Vice President and Legal Counsel. “Standing idly by as gaming revenue continues to drop precipitously harms towns and cities, and ultimately taxpayers.”

The more residents learn about the plans, the more that support grows. After hearing specific elements of the plan, support increased to 82% while opposition dropped to 15%, an enormous 67-point margin, 9 points higher than the initial overwhelming support. Even after arguments for and against the plan were highlighted, support was firm, with 76 percent expressing support, compared with 18 percent who did not–an even wider margin than the initial views shared at the outset of the survey.

Support for the proposed resort casino in Bridgeport is consistent across all demographic groups, and across all political constituencies. The plan is supported by men (79%-14%), women (70%-20%), African-Americans (74%-16%), Latinos (78%-15%) and Caucasians (73%-21%). Residents of all political affiliations also back the resort casino development: Republicans, by a margin of 81% to 17%; Democrats by 75% to 17%, and independents by 70% to 20%.

The fact that no tax dollars will be spend on the construction or operation of the casino is considered to be at least very important by 83 percent of those surveyed; and more than 8 in 10 also believe that the jobs created overall (86%) and for Bridgeport residents (85%) are at least very important factors.

Bridgeport residents clearly see that the casino will provide benefits for them. A robust 85 percent believe that the casino will create jobs. And about seven in 10 are of the view that it will help the local economy and bring more business to existing local restaurants and other businesses. A solid majority, 55 percent, also believe that it will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for state and local governments.

The MGM Bridgeport plan, announced on September 18 by MGM Resorts International and The RCI Group, developer of Steelpointe Harbor, would spur the creation of 7,000 jobs, bring the state a $50 million license fee in the current fiscal year, and grow the amount of revenue the state receives from casino gaming. The project plan also includes construction of a workforce training center in New Haven, and requires authorization by the state legislature for construction to get underway.

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14 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew C Fardy

    If I had been asked my answer would have been NO

  • Jeff Kohut

    While — in the absence of viable economic development alternatives — I fully support a Bridgeport casino, I think that we have to be careful that we don’t fail to negotiate an optimal deal for the city which assures us that we demand maximal compensation (in terms of “perks”) for our geographic location and use of valuable waterfront property, as well as just compensation with respect to local property taxes… The current MGM package presented to the people of Bridgeport doesn’t offer anything close to these indicated considerations…

    There are, indeed, many important issues and questions for Mayor Ganim/City Hall to address satisfactorily for the voters/residents of Bridgeport on the MGM deal relating to the city leveraging maximal compensation for any finalized deal in terms of Bridgeport economic development over the short and long terms…

    Some of the issues that need to be addressed in regard to the MGM deal are: 1) The low rate of local property taxes on the proposed casino, first among them. Bridgeport is being offered $8 million annually to the city for locating here: at our current mil-rate of 54, a $675 million structure would normally be liable for property taxes of $36,450,000… Why are we being thrown an $8,000,000 bone? Was there are a deal worked out for MGM in this regard via the RCI/Bridgeport tax-abatement agreement? When was this deal cut? How much does RCI get? Does this relate to RCI’s special-taxation district agreement with Bridgeport? (Something doesn’t smell right here… $8 Million is chump change for this scale of development at our present tax rate…). 2) Regarding jobs ear-marked for Bridgeport residents: How many permanent, direct jobs? What wage scale? Benefits? How about construction jobs? Look at how PSE&G and the unions have double-crossed Bridgeport in regard to that waterfront-power-plant deal? (And what is the PSE&G tax deal for the city — not to digress?). 3) What other accommodations should we look for from MGM in terms of improvements to our water and rail transportation systems that are needed to make their operation fully viable and our other development options more feasible?… DOES IT MAKE SENSE. IN THE OVERALL SCHEME OF LONG-TERM BRIDGEPORT DVELOPMENT, TO RELOCATE THE FERRY TO TRADITIONAL, OCEAN-GOING SHIPPING FACILITIES? 4) Why are we getting a much smaller-scale casino than Springfield?

    WE TRULY NEED ANSWERS FROM THE CITY AND MGM on a whole bevy of questions before we officially embrace this deal as a community and allow City Hall to sign-off on any final agreement…

    But there is no question that gambling-related development is about all that we can for Bridgeport in the shorter term — and that it should only be used to jump-start much larger-scale, diversified Bridgeport economic development… But we must seek to maximize the value of any casino deal we cut in this regard…

    All of these, and many more questions, should be presented and answered at a series of public forums held around the city before any casino-referendum vote is held or any deal cut… It seems that perhaps competition with MGM should be encouraged in a competitively-bidded process… (For a casino to locate on our waterfront, there should be casino-financed waterfront/shipping upgrades that will serve manufacturing, retail, and general tourist water-shipping/water-rail shipping uses (e.g., a harbor, rail-freight spur + rail-passenger accommodation…)

    And we should also be out front competing for the Amazon HQ deal… There’s a lot of under-utilized/derelict land in Bridgeport that could be properly assembled to accommodate Amazon…

    But we need something sooner, rather than later, and a casino deal could move “sooner” and buy us time…

    But, again: Mayor Ganim/City Hall need to connect the citizens of this city with the planning and execution of any agreements for any large-scale development — casino and otherwise. Just as the people of Bridgeport are getting the short end of the PSE&G deal, we will get the short end of any casino or other deal if the process is not truly “public”. (It is obvious from the PSE&G deal, in which the community got screwed, that third-party groups (clergy and environmental groups, et al.) can’t be trusted to cut good, large-scale deals for the people of the city. The process must be much more directly linked to community input and agreement.

    And as far as our illustrious GA delegation goes; they are literally worse than useless when it comes to advocating for Bridgeport’s interests, with only a couple of exceptions — which don’t include any would-be-mayor State Senators…

    Now: Let’s see how our would-be-governor mayor connects with the community of his city in regard to all of the emerging economic-development noise coming out of his office… Let’s see how much is real and what kind of deals the community can really expect. (More PSE&G-type deals?!…)

    And there is already noise coming out of the Gold Coast about “traffic” and from the pulpit about morality issues regarding the casino… But the casino input from these sources is just noise to be disregarded, since both factions profit from maintaining the endemic poverty of Bridgeport. Stamford-Greenwich, et al., get to exploit the poverty of Bridgeport via plentiful, cheap, labor options (without the associated expense of a locally-housed workforce), and the church organizations get to maintain their claim as socially-redemptive entities (as well as their government and private social-services/anti-poverty incomes)… Thousands of good, Bridgeport-based jobs could screw up the works for these entities in this regard… Bridgeport poverty is lucrative for some regional municipalities and organizations (and is also empowering for some local, un-named politicians who would like to move up the political food-chain…)

    Had better take your economic-development (casino) show directly to the people, Mayor Ganim, while there is still a chance to get the necessary community help that is needed for cutting a great deal worthy of a “governor’s” stamp of approval…

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Mr. Kohut is correct. Coty Hall must negotiate for maximum benefits. MGM Resorts is a carpetbagging organization notorious for smoozing local public officials, lavishing comped meals, free chips, etc., to grease the skids. What a surprise they are feeling up Joe Ganim under the table. He has a documented history of recieving bribes.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Would the result of this opinion survey be the same IF Bridgeport residents took the time to best understand the pros and cons of Gambling expantion? No.

    http://www.ctpost.com/business/article/Fitch-analysts-Many-questions-on-MGM-Bridgeport-12241560.php

  • John Marshall Lee

    Would the result of the phone survey be different if limited to those registered City voters who actually voted in the last election or Democrats voting in the recent primary? Possibly, time will tell.

    • Ron Mackey

      No, in fact the percentage could go to 80%.

      • John Marshall Lee

        RON,
        Are you saying that the majority of those who voted, presumably better informed than those who did not vote (many because they feel they know nothing about governance or politics and do not want to show off this lack of preparedness) see more opportunity in this concept than those who do not participate in the election process? Interesting? Time will tell.

        • Ron Mackey

          Voters who feel they know nothing about governance or politics and do not want to show off this lack of preparedness have every right to think that way.

  • Donald Day

    To dream the impossible dream
    To fight the unbeatable foe
    To bear with unbearable sorrow
    To run where the brave dare not go
    To right the unrightable wrong
    To be better far than you are
    To try when your arms are too weary
    To reach the unreachable star
    This is my quest, to follow that star
    No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
    To be willing to give when there’s no more to give
    To be willing to die so that honor and justice may live
    And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest
    That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest
    And the world will be better for this
    That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
    Still strove with his last ounce of courage
    To reach the unreachable star.

    Dare to Dream. But understand, that’s all it is.

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