HARTFORD, Conn. (WWLP) – MGM is building a casino in Springfield; now they’re interested in potentially building one in Connecticut. On Monday, a hearing was held about a bill that would open up competition and allow commercial developers to propose casino plans.
Up until now, Connecticut has been exclusively negotiating with the two Native American Tribes that run Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. Their proposal is to build a joint tribal casino in East Windsor to rival MGM Springfield and protect jobs and revenue.
However, a third Native American tribe, which has been trying to build a casino since 2000, said a better deal for the state would be to negotiate with commercial developers in southwestern Connecticut.
“Studies show us from southwestern Connecticut that it has five times the value that East Windsor does; and are we going to do this for any individual group or are we doing this for the citizens and the state of Connecticut,” said Richard Velky, the Chief of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.
MGM said they’re interested in southwestern Connecticut to tap into the New York market, not to compete with themselves. “Yes. MGM is interested in having access to the New York market and right now that path is through this bill,” said Uri Clinton of MGM Resorts International.
Then there are others who say no casino is the way to go. They claim the gaming markets are over saturated and that the people aren’t getting a voice. “Somebody from Massachusetts said, why don’t we have a referendum vote in the various communities? Where are the people’s voices in this matter? Are we blinded by money?” asked Connecticut State Senator Tony Hwang of the ‘No More Casinos in Connecticut’ coalition.
This bill requires any developer to invest at least $500,000 in their project and pay a non-refundable $50-million licensing fee to the state.
The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes said Connecticut would lose nearly $86-million a year if the state allows commercial developers to bid to build a third casino.