Led by State Senator Marilyn Moore’s opposition, a sweetener bill to add slots into state parimutuel facilities including one in Bridgeport is apparently dead, replaced by a demand by urban legislators to back mixed-martial arts in exchange for approving a third state casino in East Windsor operated by a joint venture of Connecticut’s tribal nations. MMA was approved Tuesday night, according to the Hartford Courant.
A dizzying swirl of deal-making is underway in Hartford as the state legislative session comes to a close Wednesday night. The big-ticket issue of the session is the tribal nations proposal for a third state casino in East Windsor to counter MGM’s nearly $1 billion casino under construction in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The sweetener for slots in Bridgeport to satisfy some members of the city’s legislative delegation who rolled craps following opposition from Moore who says slots in the Shoreline Star OTB facility on the East Side would do little for economic development for the city and exploit her constituency.
Moore, too, is an opponent of mixed-martial arts citing health concerns and lack of regulation. She voted against the MMA approved bill. Moore cites the benefits of union jobs for a third casino and preserving money for Bridgeport from the state’s slot compact with the tribes. Under the gaming compact the state receives 25 percent of the slot take in a monopoly agreement with the tribes. It has meant millions of dollars to the city each year for 25 years.
Some members of the city’s legislative delegation, including State House members Chris Rosario and Ezequiel Santiago, assert extreme fighting is a new big-source of business for the Webster Bank Arena and bolsters support for the local hospitality industry. They are proponents of an open, competitive process–opposed by the tribes–for a third state casino.
So even within the city’s eight-member legislative delegation, positioning and deal making are coming down to the wire in the legislative session.