A public hearing regarding a request for proposals for a commercial gaming facility is scheduled for March 8 in Hartford as the plot thickens for an open casino process driven by MGM Resorts that proposes a $675 million waterfront casino in the city and pushback from the state’s two tribal nations that enjoy a gaming monopoly in the state in exchange for sharing 25 percent of the slot take.
Bridgeport State House members Chris Rosario and Jack Hennessy have introduced bills, see Public Safety Committee bill here, in support of a competitive process.
AN ACT REQUIRING AN APPLICATION FEE AND REGISTRATION FEE FOR BIDDERS ON A REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR A CASINO GAMING FACILITY.
To require any bidder on a request for proposals for a casino gaming facility to pay an application fee of five million dollars and registration fee of two hundred fifty thousand dollars in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.
The wheels are turning far beyond a roulette wheel with heavy lobbying, lawyering, legislation and loot stretching from Hartford to Washington featuring the powerful gaming interests. Connecticut’s first commercial casino, without a competitive process, was approved by the state legislature last year for an East Windsor location on behalf of the Mashantucket-Mohegan tribal nations to counter MGM’s nearly $1 billion gaming complex underway in Springfield, Massachusetts. The East Windsor location is not on tribal land and it’s unclear when construction will start given the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs sign-off reticence.
MGM, whose CEO Jim Murren has deep roots in Bridgeport, argues open up the process to see what comes back. The tribal nations assert opening up the process breaks the gaming compact with the state, although they have announced if the legislature supports a competitive process for Bridgeport they will participate. MGM has locked up the best piece of property in the city in partnership with Bridgeport Landing Development that controls the Steelpointe Harbor redevelopment area. MGM officials argue Bridgeport’s proximity to the Fairfield County and New York markets make it the most viable location for a major gaming complex.
Where could the tribal nations do something in land-poor Bridgeport with a representative footprint?
Winners Shoreline Star, the parimutuel facility, occupies nearly 20 acres along the Pequonnock River on Kossuth Street, but not nearly the size of MGM’s proposed site.
Mohegan Sun, for one, has partnered with operators of the city-owned Webster Bank Arena on concert and marketing promotions with the adjacent city-owned former Bluefish stadium slated for a warm-weather concert amphitheater to open spring 2019.
Is it farfetched, when the dust settles, for MGM and the tribal nations to make a gaming marriage in Bridgeport? Not judging by the positioning and lawyering, but it’s a crazy business.
Mayor Joe Ganim, see video above, co-hosted STAR 99’s Anna & Raven Show the other day and chatted about the casino issues.