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09 June 2017, 09:20 | Elizabeth Houston
MGM’s Springfield casino faces a new threat from a proposed competitor in nearby East Windsor Connecticut
"Our state has a longstanding partnership and compact with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal nations, who employ thousands of CT residents in their casinos".
The casino giant, which is set to open its $950 million MGM Springfield facility in September 2018, argued that CT legislators "missed an enormous opportunity" by failing to allow potential operators beyond the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes into the process.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (ehr-eh-SIM'-oh-wits) is calling the situation "fluid", saying nothing has been finalized.
The two nations proposed to build a joint casino off-reservation land in order to prevent job cuts and revenue loss when a $950-million casino resort is launched in Springfield, a MA city located not far from the state's border with CT.
But he said whatever legislators do, they must brace themselves to end up in court. The casino bill was previously voted in the state Senate.
The issue this year was a bill that neutralized a health-and-safety liability issue that had discouraged mixed-martial arts promoters from staging matches in CT. Those provisions imposed higher levels of health insurance coverage for MMA fighters than for boxers, plus a gross receipts tax.
The deal created an awkward situation for the Connecticut AFL-CIO: The labor federation opposes easing the health-coverage standards for fighters, but it supported the authorization of a new casino expected to have union jobs.
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House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, found herself on the same side as Malloy, who called the bill important to the economy.
The General Assembly is also in talks to allow for slot machines to be loccated in off-track betting facilities in New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury, as well as what's being described as a "Boutique Casino" in Hartford.
The bill would allow CT to prepare for on-line sports better if federal restrictions are lifted by Congress, she said.
MGM has built its opposition to the tribes's casino around a pitch that CT, deep in the throes of a budget crisis, could do better by opening Fairfield County to competition for a casino resort that could appeal to the NY market. MGM says it's an unconstitutional no bid contract.
But the state granted the tribes' exclusivity on casino games in the 1990s in return for a 25-percent annual share of gross slots revenues. The Connecticut tribes hope this casino will take away some of MGM's business.
MGM vowed to continue its fight, turning from the legislature to federal court where it already has a lawsuit challenging a 2015 statute that set up a two-step process for casino expansion.
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