For a few years now, sensible minds have suggested that officials from MGM and Connecticut’s tribal nations that operate Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun should broker a deal that’s good for them and good for an added gaming income stream for the revenue-challenged state.
While outgoing Governor Dan Malloy ducked, new Governor Ned Lamont who will receive the oath of office on Wednesday declares he wants the parties to figure something out and avoid litigation. MGM says yes, the tribes say no.
A few days ago Lamont told the Hartford Courant in the context of a sports betting question:
“It’s not just the small revenue opportunity. It’s reality. I’ve got to get the tribes and MGM to figure that out. Let’s sit down, guys, and figure it out. … We’ve talked to everybody. There’s no negotiations [formally yet]. I just told everybody that if we’re sitting around in litigation in three years, it’s a waste of your time and my time.”
On Tuesday MGM official Uri Clinton issued this statement:
“We appreciate the comments by Governor-elect Lamont over the weekend regarding sports wagering in the State of Connecticut, and the need for all interested parties to sit down together. We agree that such a discussion is in the state’s best interest, and we are prepared to take him up on his suggestion immediately.”
The tribes issued this joint statement:
“The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe are sovereign nations, with their own governments and laws. For the last 20 plus years, those governments have had essentially treaties in place with the state of Connecticut that grant them exclusivity in exchange for twenty-five percent of their respective casino’s slot revenue, a deal that’s sent more than $8 billion to the state’s General Fund. Federal Law makes it clear exactly what happens if either side breaks these agreements.
“In contrast, MGM has no vested interest in Connecticut other than making sure any developments here don’t impact their interests in New York and Massachusetts. Their shady lobbying tactics in Washington are currently under investigation and recent reports indicate may have led to the resignation of a cabinet secretary. They are not credible and they should have no seat at any table where the future of an important Connecticut industry is being discussed.”
The General Assembly will convene session on Wednesday with legalized sports betting and expanded gaming key revenue sources for the state.
Connecticut currently operates under a monopoly with the tribes in which the state receives 25 percent of a dwindling slot take in exchange for grant gaming exclusivity.
MGM has proposed building a $675 million waterfront gaming destination in Bridgeport. Clinton says its gaming model will enhance the state’s revenue stream and add an economic jolt to the state’s largest city.