Connecticut Voters Support Competitive Casino Bids Over Gaming Monopoly

MGM Bridgeport rendering
Rendering of MGM Bridgeport.

Connecticut voters overwhelmingly side with an open, competitive process in pursuit of a commercial casino rather than continue with the state’s current gaming monopoly with the two tribal nations, according to a poll conducted by The Mellman Group for MGM Resorts International that wants to build a $675 million waterfront destination at the Steelpointe Harbor redevelopment area.

News release:

With the start of the legislative session just weeks away, 71 percent prefer “an open and competitive bidding process that would include all qualified developers, including the Tribes, to make sure the state gets the best deal.”

The survey also found that Connecticut voters believe that the state, local governments and local communities will be better off for such a process. Just 20% prefer to “give the exclusive right” to operate a new commercial casino elsewhere in Connecticut to the two Tribes that currently operate casinos on their respective Tribal lands

The survey was released today by a number of advocates for a competitive bidding process as being in the state’s best interest.

“I have been in Connecticut for over four decades, and I have built businesses that survived the rollercoaster that is the Connecticut economy,” said Mickey Herbert, immediate past president and CEO of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. “During my tenure leading the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, I was optimistic about our potential. I still am. I believe that we can build a new prosperity. But we cannot do it alone. We need the legislature to listen to the people and businesses of this region and our state.”

Public support for a competitive bidding process extends beyond any one region of the state. For example, 60 percent of Eastern Connecticut voters support an open bidding process, while only 25 percent of Eastern Connecticut voters support giving the tribes an exclusive right to build a commercial casino.

“The public has this right. Connecticut has an unprecedented opportunity to attract new jobs and new tourism, boost economic development, and create stronger revenue streams rather than stay mired in old agreements that are bringing a diminishing return, said John McKinney, a former State Senator and gubernatorial candidate.

Two-thirds (67%) of survey respondents say local communities will be better off with an open bidding process because a new commercial casino resulting from that process would create thousands of jobs, and would be required to hire local residents and create workforce training programs to teach local residents the skills needed to obtain jobs.

Support for a competitive process is consistent across political, demographic and geographic lines throughout the electorate, including two-thirds of Democrats and three-fourths of Republicans, 77% of Latinos and 72% of African Americans.

More than 8 in 10 (81%) say that a commercial casino applicant should be required to conduct a referendum that would provide local voters with an opportunity to have a say on whether or not a casino would be built in their community. Only 16% opposed a local referendum.

“We remain convinced that Bridgeport is by far the best location for a commercial casino in Connecticut, and the best way for the state to reach that same conclusion is to move ahead with an open, transparent, competitive bidding process,” said Robert Christoph Jr., president of operations for the RCI Group, developer of Steelpointe Harbor in Bridgeport. “We’re just waiting for the green light to move from conversation to construction.”

The survey also found that Connecticut voters would prefer that any new law require casino developers to make up revenue the state might lose when the Tribes current exclusive right to operate casinos in Connecticut were to conclude.

Even when poll respondents were offered arguments for and against a competitive process plan, strong support for a competitive process remained virtually unchanged, as voters rejected arguments that jobs and tax revenue would be at risk from a bidding process open to all prospective developers.

“Enough is enough. It’s time Connecticut leveled the playing field, and put fairness, jobs, and economic opportunity first,” said Chief Richard Velky of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. “The gaming landscape has changed. Connecticut should support an open process for a commercial casino. It is the right approach, and the people of our state agree.”

A competitive process bill was approved by the State House of Representatives in 2018 but was not considered in the State Senate. A new proposal is expected to be considered in the 2019 legislative session, which begins on January 9.

The survey, conducted by The Mellman Group for MGM Resorts International, included 500 registered voters in Connecticut and was conducted November 13-17. 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.

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4 comments

  1. While Connecticut Slept.

    List of casinos in the U.S. state of New York

    Casino City County State
    Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Hogansburg Franklin New York Native American
    Batavia Downs Casino Batavia Genesee New York Racino
    Del Lago Resort and Casino Tyre Seneca New York Commercial All table games are permitted.
    Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway Yonkers Westchester New York Racino All table games are automated.
    The Fairgrounds Gaming Hamburg Erie New York Racino
    Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino Islandia Suffolk New York Commercial
    Finger Lakes Gaming and Race Track Farmington Ontario New York Racino
    Lakeside Entertainment Union Springs Cayuga New York Native American
    Mohawk Bingo Palace and Casino Akwesasne Franklin New York Native American
    Monticello Gaming & Raceway Monticello Sullivan New York Racino
    Point Place Casino Bridgeport Madison New York Native American
    Resorts World Catskills Kiamesha Lake Sullivan New York Commercial
    Resorts World New York City Ozone Park Queens New York Racino All table games are automated.
    Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady Schenectady New York Commercial All table games are permitted.
    Saratoga Casino and Raceway Saratoga Springs Saratoga New York Racino
    Seneca Allegany Casino Salamanca Cattaraugus New York Native American
    Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino Buffalo Erie New York Native American
    Seneca Gaming and Entertainment Irving Irving Cattaraugus New York Native American
    Seneca Gaming and Entertainment Oil Spring Cuba Allegany New York Native American
    Seneca Gaming and Entertainment Salamanca Salamanca Cattaraugus New York Native American
    Seneca Niagara Casino Niagara Falls Niagara New York Native American
    Tioga Downs & Casino Nichols Tioga New York Commercial All table games are permitted.
    Turning Stone Resort & Casino Verona Oneida New York Native American
    Vernon Downs & Casino Vernon Oneida New York Racino
    Yellow Brick Road Casino Chittenango Madison New York Native American

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  2. Jimfox, thanks again for posting this list of casinos and I’m sure that those in Bridgeport are not aware of all of those other casinos and they could care less. Their golden goose is a casino in Bridgeport that will solve the City’s ills. There’s a lot competition out there for those casinos dollars. I’ve stayed at Turning Stone Resort & Casino Verona Oneida New York Native American in Central New York a number of times and it was a good experience.

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  3. The Bridgeport Casino will be a non-starter under Lamont — especially with key players form the Bridgeport delegation already sold-out to him and the rest unwilling to engage in any sort of political fight… And Bridgeport (City Hall and the delegation) is extremely inept at creating effective political alliances and creating/directing legislation utilizing those alliances…

    I would suggest a Plan B; but, unfortunately, with Lamont as governor, and with our current City Hall leadership, for Bridgeport, any “Plan B” can only mean “more of the same…”

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  4. There will be no casino in Bridgeport. MGM came in with a dog and pony show to make a few waves. Second best option: legalize sports betting, clean up Shoreline Star and count the money.

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