A majority of Bridgeport’s legislative delegation on Thursday joined more than a dozen state legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, introducing a bill to create a Connecticut Gaming Commission overseeing a competitive bidding process for a commercial casino resort. It was submitted to the Public Safety Committee co-chaired by State Senator Dennis Bradley setting the stage for another face-off between gaming leader MGM that has proposed a $675 million waterfront destination in Bridgeport and the tribal nations operating Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun seeking to maintain their gaming exclusivity with the state.
“It’s about fairness and transparency,” says Bradley. “It’s about making sure we place the working families of Bridgeport and CT in the place for growth and shared prosperity. Our core values as a nation has always been to allow for competition as long as there is equity in the process and as few restraints as possible on individual ingenuity.”
State Senator Marilyn Moore, a candidate for mayor, has not yet signed onto the bill but expects to do so once she reviews it.
She told OIB and in comments to the Connecticut Post she wants to see a development on the waterfront and supports an open process.
“I want what’s best for Bridgeport. I want who can offer the most expedient and best development for Bridgeport, whether that’s the tribes or someone else. I’m not against gaming or the expansion of gaming … This is bigger than gambling. They’re talking about development of the waterfront. I’ve been in Bridgeport my entire life. I want to see this happen so that Bridgeport can prosper.”
Last year a similar bill passed the State House, but did not come up for a vote in the Senate. Meanwhile the tribal nations are lobbying legislators to remain committed to their proposal for a casino in East Windsor to counter MGM’s market share from its new destination in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The federal agency that oversees tribal gaming has not signed off on the East Windsor gaming expansion that would be built on non-tribal land. The Tribes are seeking a legislative fix that eschews federal approval of their gaming expansion.
Some back channel discussions center on a bill approving both the East Windsor casino while also allowing a competitive process for another destination with Bridgeport likely the host city.
The proposed competitive bid legislation:
PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY
AN ACT CREATING THE CONNECTICUT GAMING COMMISSION AND CREATING A COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCESS FOR A RESORT-CASINO.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
That the general statutes be amended to create the Connecticut Gaming Commission and create a competitive bidding process for a resort-casino license.
Statement of Purpose:
To create a competitive bidding process for a resort-casino that would allow the state to choose a development with the most economic impact to the state.