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NEWS 11 December 2017

Connecticut tribes demand involvement over potential resort development

By Robert Simmons
Tribal leaders from the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes have penned a letter to Connecticut state officials stating that they want to be a part of any potential negotiations to open a new casino resort in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In a joint letter to the Connecticut legislature, Mohegan tribal chairman Kevin Brown and Mashantucket Pequot chairman Rodney Butler appealed to state officials to involve them in any potential bidding process, citing the good history of cooperation between tribes and the state.

They stated that: “For more than two decades, our two tribes and the state of Connecticut have forged a mutually beneficial partnership created from the first MOU in 1993 to the second in 1994.

“Those agreements steered more than $7 billion in direct payment to the state’s General Fund and created billions more in other economic activity. That direct funding has gone to a host of critical services in every town and city across our state.”

The letter adds: “It was the Legislature’s decision to move forward with only one site in the north-central Hartford region. If circumstances have changed and there is now real interest in putting a casino in Bridgeport, we want to be a part of that discussion.

“Over the past 30 years, many promises have been made to residents of the Park City. Few, if any, have come to fruition. We, like so many others, see the tremendous potential of Bridgeport and would love to be one of the catalysts that lead to a real revival.”

Tribal officials have had many run-ins with MGM Resorts in the last few years, largely over the construction of a third casino property near East Windsor, a development which MGM Resorts have vehemently opposed, prompting a long running legal standoff which only ended earlier this year.

This latest twist comes amid sustained pressure from MGM Resorts group, who submitted a proposal to build a $675m casino in Bridgeport earlier this year. To further this bid MGM has launched a massive digital print and advertising campaign, bombarding local residents with messages which highlight the benefits of a new casino development. MGM CEO Jim Murren recently appeared at a meeting in Bridgeport to address questions from local business leaders and ramp up support for its bid.

Uri Clinton, Senior Vice President of MGM Resorts and its main legal counsel in the area, issued his own letter in response, stating: “The tribe's request yesterday to be ‘part of that discussion’ is good news for the people of Connecticut.

"We have urged the state to establish a process where every operator, including the tribes, can put their best option on the table. The state can then choose how they maximise jobs, maximise revenues.

“We welcome the tribe's interest in such a process, and urge state leadership, in the 2018 General Assembly session, to do what is truly best for the people of Connecticut.”

RELATED TAGS: Land-Based | Legal & Regulatory | Financial | Casino
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