Bridgeport legislators have proposed a new piece of legislation that would dismiss the license for a casino venue in East Windsor and start a competitive bidding process for the first casino to be located off tribal lands on the territory of the state. Back in 2017, state lawmakers gave the nod to the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Indian tribes to join forces in a common project for the first commercial casino in East Windsor.
However, competition came into the line, as MGM Resorts proposed a project for a casino venue in Bridgeport, too. Today, Rep. Chris Rosario commented in a release that the process is aimed at providing every gambling operator that had an interest, regardless if it comes to the local Indian tribes or MGM Resorts International, with the opportunity to make their best attempt for casino expansion. According to Mr. Rosario, such an approach would be best for the state of Connecticut, as well.
The proposed piece of legislation calls for a two-step process, with the bids to be placed first, and then choices to be made. The existing state law requires any expansion of casino gambling to be approved by local legislature.
The newly-proposed bill which is being increasingly backed by Bridgeport and New Haven delegations calls for an investment of a minimum of $500 million to be invested in a new casino project as well as for at least 2,000 people to be directly employed at the venue.
In addition, the piece of legislation also includes a requirement of a non-refundable licensing fee of $50 million and a 25% tax on the annual gross gaming revenues to be paid to the state of Connecticut on both casino table games and slot machines. Also, an additional fee of 10% of the operator’s annual gross gaming revenue accumulated from video slot machines to be provided as funding of the Educational Cost Sharing grants for local communities.
Increasing Competition Causes Debates
The two Indian tribes that currently run the Mohegan Sun and the Foxwoods Resort Casino, however, shared their concerns that allowing another operator to set foot in the Connecticut gambling market would violate the tribes’ exclusive agreements with the state. Under these terms of exclusivity, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes are currently allowed to offer slot machines in the state of Connecticut.
Reportedly, the agreements reached between the two Indian tribes and the state brought over $250 million to Connecticut in 2017. unfortunately, the total revenue has declined over the last few years due to constantly rising casino competition in the adjacent states.
The Bridgeport legislators, however, shared that the first stage of the process which has been outlined in the proposed bill does not breach any of the state’s agreements with the tribes and explained that adding new players to the existing gambling arena of Connecticut could only boost the potential economic benefits for the state.
The controversy associated with increasing competition in the local casino gambling market heated up after MGM Resorts International got an approval for its Springfield casino and entertainment complex project estimated to about $960 million. The approval of the casino construction plans caused some debates, as the local Indian tribes shared their concern that such a step would drive local players away from the state.