Bridgeport Casino Still Being Questioned by Legislators

by Jim Hall

MGM Resorts International and Connecticut lawmakers to discuss potential Bridgeport casino this February.

Last summer, MGM Resorts International proposed the creation of a casino in the Bridgeport area. The casino operator and their allies are ready to see the project move forward. Some lawmakers however, still have questions and concerns. Supposedly, this week, a press conference will be held to see proposed legislation for the gaming venue revealed in Hartford.

Legislator Concerns

Senator Marilyn MooreConnecticut Senator Marilyn Moore is one lawmaker questioning the construction of a casino in Bridgeport but says that she is not against gaming. Moore pointed out that she goes to casinos and visits the Foxwoods. While she enjoys casino gaming, she is worried about a negative impact to the area, such as problem gamblers and traffic issues. Moore also questions whether or not the state needs additional gaming destinations. The Senator has pointed out that both the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have seen a decrease in their gaming revenues.

Representative Ezequiel Santiago is on the other end of the spectrum and welcomes the potential to see a new gaming facility in the state. The Rep stated that he feels the state will be able to play offense by creating a casino in the city and attracting customers from areas in other states such as Long Island and New York City. These markets are up for grabs and getting in early would help to create a market before any competition is created.

Santiago stated that it is important for Connecticut to be proactive before another state corners the market and lawmakers begin to wonder why players are leaving the state to go gamble somewhere else. Lawmakers are supposed to be meeting beginning on the 7th of February for their regular session and proposed legislation is supposedly being revealed on Wednesday.

Many Viewpoints in the State

There are several lawmakers in the state with various viewpoints on the subject. In the past, Rep. Santiago and Representative Christopher Rosario have tried to see a new gaming venue approved in the state. In 2017, both Representatives tried to see the General Assembly consider a Bridgeport casino. Both will be pushing yet again to see a casino bill created to begin the process. The bill would reportedly allow MGM and other interested companies the ability to submit proposals of gaming venues they would like to create.

According to Santiago, the plan is not MGM specific. The goal of the representative is to see the state get the best deal as well as Bridgeport. However, MGM wants Connecticut to deal with the tribal groups no longer and feel they would be the winner in open competition. Currently, the state allows the tribes to have the monopoly on gaming, in exchange for revenues.

Representatives serving the region where the casino would be located if MGM were to create it are still not on board fully. Representative Andre Baker and Senator Ed Gomes both have stated they have yet to make up their minds as to if they want to see the casino in their region. Supposedly, citizens in the region are split so the lawmakers are unsure as to which way to lean, for or against such a gaming venue.

Baker is not happy about the plan proposed by MGM as they stated a job training center would be created in New Haven, and Baker feels this is a move to gain support from voters in this region. Lawmakers are also worried about breaking compacts that currently exist with the Mohegans and Mashantuckets.

For now, we will have to wait and see what type of bill emerges this week and what it will provide for the state. Questions remain as to if such legislation will have the support it needs to move forward.