MGM Announces Plans for Connecticut Casino

by Jim Hall

MGMMGM Resorts International wants to create a new casino in the Bridgeport waterfront area of Connecticut.

This morning, MGM Resorts International announced plans to create a new casino in the Steelpointe Harbor area of Bridgeport, Connecticut. According to MGM, thousands of jobs would be created with the project. The casino is being touted as a major economic force and would offer an entertainment resort of the highest quality. The media was provided with information today on the plans of MGM via Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James Murren, a native of the Bridgeport area. MGM feels that this project would turn the tide so to speak when it comes to the economy of the state.

State Law Won’t Allow It

Current laws in Connecticut will now allow MGM to create a casino as they so desire. Gambling is limited in the state to tribal gaming via the Mohegan Tribes and the Mashantucket Pequot. These tribes already operate gaming venues in the state and have created a joint venture to create a third casino, this time a commercial one on non-tribal lands, in East Windsor.

Looking at the East Windsor venue, MGM has fought the project stating that commercial gaming providers should have been given the opportunity to earn the third gaming license instead of the state just giving it to MMCT, the joint venture of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes. Now, the tribes are creating the venue in East Windsor to compete with the MGM Springfield casino set to open next year in Massachusetts.

MGM has not won repeated attempts to see this project stopped. MMCT wants to keep gaming in Connecticut by creating a new casino close to MGM Springfield. MGM does not want the competition. Now it seems MGM Resorts has decided if they cannot shut down the MMCT venue then they will work to create another casino that will be to their benefit.

MGM’s Plans

The Bridgeport venue would include 2,000 slot machines, according to information provided to the media by MGM Resorts. 160 table games would be included as well on the gaming floor. A theater would provide additional entertainment with dining and retail options also in the plans. A hotel with 300 guest rooms would provide the option of an overnight stay for guests.

For the plans of MGM Resorts to proceed, legislature would have to make changes to the state law. MGM plans on partnering with the RCI Group to complete the project. The RCI Group is the developer of Steelpointe Harbor whose chairman, Robert W. Christoph Sr. commented on the MGM project by stating that the focus now is on the thousands of jobs that would be created and the economic benefit for families as well as the community and residents within the state. According to the chairman, the impact should not be underestimated and cannot be overstated.

Currently, the state receives hundreds of millions in annual payments from the tribes operating gaming in the state. This project is not approved by the tribes and understandably so. Andrew Doba is a spokesman for the two tribes who stated that the proposal by MGM reflects a pattern of dishonesty. According to Doba, the authorization of the MGM proposal would be in violation of the existing compacts between Connecticut and the two tribes, putting an immediate end to the slot payments the tribes provide.

Steelepoint is a former industrial area that is being redeveloped to create an area of entertainment for the state. RCI Has already been working on the area for some time, with a Bass Pro Shop, office space and more coming to the area. A casino would certainly boost Bridgeport but at what cost to the state?