The Connecticut Airport Authority and tribal operators Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun plan to construct a huge casino resort at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, and MGM Resorts International is definitely fuming about it.
Adding insult to injury, MGM, which is building a $950 million casino and entertainment complex near the border of Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts, has been kept in the dark from the plan since both the airport authority and tribal operators hatched it in secret backrooms.
Hartford Courant reported that MGM tried to compel both the airport authority and the tribal operators to divulge any discussions related to Potential Casino Development” and “Negotiating Strategy” by filing two complaints before the state Freedom of Information Commission.
MGM, in its complaint, questioned the propriety of the secret casino negotiations between the airport authority and tribal operators as it pointed out that significant effect on the region of a casino resort at Bradley Airport.
But to the disappointment of MGM, commission hearing officer Lisa Fein Siegel sees nothing wrong with the airport authority’s manner of conducting deals.
Siegel said in a report that the Connecticut Airport Authority has the right not to reveal details of negotiations about a possible casino at Bradley International Airport Commission, citing the state’s right to know laws.
Much that have been discussed in the meetings between the authority and tribal operators, according to Siegel, focused on “financial provisions of the lease they would enter into with MMCT, how the lease would be structured, and concerns about the new or restructured leases with third-party partners in the gaming facility operation.”
She is concluded “that having such information in the public domain during the competitive process would reveal [the authority’s] negotiating strategy and would harm [the authority’s] ability to maintain optimal rental terms and conditions.”
Siegel, whose preliminary report needs to be approved by the full Freedom of Information Commission, maintains that the disclosure is protected under freedom of information laws.
Kevin Dillon, the airport authority’s executive director, said Wednesday’s report by Siegel affirmed what the authority has been saying all along.
“We are pleased that the hearing officer recognizes as we do that there are times when negotiations have to be discussed non-publicly by our board,” Dillon told the news agency. “We have certain trade secrets that we possess that could be detrimental to us or those we represent if they are prematurely released.”
MGM, for its part, vowed to block the recommendation in Siegel’s report.
“MGM has said consistently that a fair, open, transparent and competitive process is in the public interest,” said Alan Feldman, executive vice president at MGM Resorts International, according to Hartford Courant. “We continue to firmly believe that is true, and will be asking the Freedom of Information Commission to discount the claim by the Connecticut Airport Authority that it can meet in secret, develop and discuss plans for Connecticut’s first commercial casino, and completely shut out the public, which plainly has an interest in what occurs at the state’s major airport.”