Hours before MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren who has deep roots in Bridgeport was scheduled to address a packed constituency of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, the state’s two tribal nations unleashed a video challenging the company’s veracity to building a $675 million waterfront casino in the city. MGM and the tribal nations that operate Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are in a positioning battle over the state’s first commercial casino.
The video includes Murren’s voice notifying shareholders that Springfield, Mass will be the last major development project in the United States. “Connecticut isn’t getting an MGM casino, Connecticut’s getting played,” declares the video voice-over.
MGM officials assert the language was taken out of context. Murren’s reference was for approved properties, not for proposed properties.
MGM is building a nearly billion dollar casino in Springfield. In response the tribal nations joined forces to protect their Connecticut turf prevailing upon Governor Dan Malloy and the state legislature to authorize a third casino on non-tribal land in East Windsor. Here’s the rub. Connecticut has a monopoly agreement with the tribal nations that calls for the state to receive 25 percent of the slot take. The agreement goes back to deal cut by then-Governor Lowell Weicker.
MGM officials declare that a casino operated by the tribal nations on non-tribal property compromises the legality of the gaming compact.
In September MGM and Murren countered with proposed $675 million waterfront resort for the East End creating thousands of construction and permanent jobs, a guarantee $8 million annually to the city as the host community in addition to millions more from real estate and personal property and building permits. MGM is partnering with the RCI Group, developers of Steelpointe Harbor, to build a casino on the old Carpenter Technology site on Seaview Avenue.
MGM officials Murren and Uri Clinton argue what the Bridgeport resort will generate will outweigh the money the state receives from the gaming compact. The tribal nations assert otherwise.
All this is playing out publicly with both sides making their case and is expected to be a hotly contested issue in the next session of the state legislature that is the key player in deciding the future of gaming.