When plagued by one of the worst approval ratings in the country, budgets drowning in red ink, major companies fleeing the state and a flaccid jobs-creating legacy as governor, there is a way to go out the door on a higher note–bring stalemated parties together in the cause of creating thousands of jobs and stimulating the economy. That’s the challenge of Governor Dan Malloy when it comes to the standoff between MGM Resorts and the tribal nations that operate Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Otherwise the standoff will crap out into less jobs and more red ink for the state, and no one wins.
Connecticut operates under a monopoly in which the state receives 25 percent of the slot take in exchange for granting the tribes gaming exclusivity. That revenue to the state, however, is dwindling. MGM will soon open a nearly $1 billion casino resort in Springfield Massachusetts. To counter that development the legislature approved a casino for the tribes in East Windsor to protect its market flank in that end of Connecticut. That development, however, is years away. Meanwhile, MGM has proposed a $675 million waterfront destination in Bridgeport because they believe the state’s largest city is the most valuable location for such a development leveraging its access to the wealthy Fairfield County and New York markets.
The tribes want to maintain their monopoly while MGM pursues an open, competitive process. Both sides have their share of support in the state legislature that would have to approve any gaming deal. At this point it’s like the irresistible force versus the immovable object.
Tribe comments like these, following an overture by MGM, don’t further the cause for a deal:
“That’s like a bully who steals your lunch money, then opens a food truck next to the cafeteria,” said Andrew Doba, spokesman for MMCT (tribes).
But Malloy, with the backing of Bridgeport’s legislative delegation, could step in and say okay boys and girls, enough with the fighting, the charges and counter charges. Let’s figure out a way that makes this work for the state, the tribes, MGM in the cause of thousands of jobs and more revenue for the state. In the end, it’s all about the bottom line for everyone. It can make financial sense for everyone.
Malloy is still the governor. He could use the force of his will to bring the parties together to hammer home a reasonable, if not perfect, marriage. Will he? Or will he continue to sit on the sidelines running out the clock of a lame-duck office? If that’s the case it’s craps for everyone.
CT Post reporter Dan Haar has more on this:
It’s been clear for months the only way Connecticut will see a new casino in the next few years is through negotiations–not just with lawmakers over a bill, but with MGM, the tribes and the governor to reach a lasting settlement.
That’s what Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim wants to see and that’s what I’ve said has to happen in order to break the stalemate between MGM Resorts International and the tribes, operating jointly as MMCT in the planned East Windsor casino.
Now MGM appears to agree.
Full story here.