Casino operator MGM Resorts’ long-running war with Connecticut’s tribal gaming operators has shifted its focus to the town of Bridgeport.
On Wednesday, the chairmen of the Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation made public a letter they’d written to Connecticut officials expressing their interest in a joint venture casino project in Bridgeport, a coastal city close to the state’s southern border with New York state.
Bridgeport is where MGM has proposed building a $675m gaming and entertainment complex. While the state has so far shown little issue in advancing this proposal, the tribes now say that “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.”
The two tribes, who individually operate the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, have teamed up on a joint venture called MMCT to build a third casino on non-tribal land in East Windsor, just south of the Massachusetts border. This casino is intended to siphon off gamblers who might otherwise continue heading north to MGM Springfield, the $960m Massachusetts casino scheduled to open next September.
Work on the East Windsor project has yet to start due to the federal government slow-rolling its approval of amendments to the tribes’ gaming compacts with the state, which prohibit the building of any new casinos. MGM has also fought the East Windsor casino in court, claiming the company wasn’t allowed to bid on the project before Connecticut legislators approved the plan.
On Tuesday, MGM CEO Jim Murren (pictured) paid a visit to Bridgeport – Murren’s hometown – to lobby state legislators on (a) the merits of the proposed casino, and (b) the need to revise its casino rules in order to properly compete with neighboring states’ gaming operations.
On Thursday, Murren responded to the tribes’ letter by saying MGM would “welcome the tribes’ interest” in an open competition for a Bridgeport casino, and once again urged state legislators “to do what is truly best for the people of Connecticut.”