Connecticut Court Gives MGM The Mutombo Finger Wag On East Windsor Case

MGM Resorts International is behind on the scorecard after the first two rounds. Legal arguments aimed at blocking a proposed casino on the Connecticut-Massachusetts border were found lacking last week. As a result, the dismissal of MGM’s case against Connecticut was upheld by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan. Despite its second legal defeat, the company doesn’t have any plans to stop fighting. After all, MGM has a $1 billion casino investment in Springfield, Massachusetts to protect. MGM is “undeterred in our goal of having the opportunity to compete in Connecticut,” MGM Resorts legal counsel Uri Clinton said in a statement after the ruling. The crux of the East Windsor casino lawsuit The Connecticut legislature recently passed a bill that authorizes a $300 million tribal casino on non-tribal land, without any type of bidding/proposal process. The measure also authorized the construction of a third casino in the state. It effectively handed the license for that casino to the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes. MGM, which happens to be building a Massachusetts casino less than 30 minutes from the Connecticut border, has been highly critical of the process from the outset. In a statement following the House vote, Clinton said: MGM wants an open bidding process. It would also like to see the project moved south, far away from its yet-to-be-completed Massachusetts project. With Connecticut deciding to pre-award the license to its two gaming tribes, MGM is doing everything it can to block the bill. Thus far, courts have sided with the state of Connecticut. Case dismissed over lack of evidence In a prior decision, a Connecticut judge already dismissed the case brought by MGM against the state of Connecticut. The company suffered its second defeat last week when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling. When it dismissed the case, the 2nd Circuit gave MGM International the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag, calling the company’s claims that the legislature’s decision to fast track the joint project between the state’s two gaming tribes put MGM at a competitive disadvantage, “purely speculative.” MGM can still fight The tribes are happy with the ruling, but the court did leave the door open for MGM to continue pursuing legal action. According to the Boston Herald, in his opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge John Walker Jr. wrote the following in a footnote: The question now is: can MGM prove they are being harmed?

At Wynn Boston Harbor It’s The “Non-Casino Story That Is The Story”

After some unseasonable spring weather, construction efforts on the Wynn Boston Harbor Casino are into high gear. Now the sheer size and scope of the Everett, Massachusetts project are beginning to take shape. A recent report in the Boston Globe offers a tantalizing glimpse at the future resort casino, which is scheduled to open June 24, 2019. Wynn Boston Harbor is routinely touted by Wynn Resorts and Massachusetts officials as the largest single-phase private development project in the state’s history. And this isn’t hyperbole. In fact, according to the Boston Globe, the building’s footprint alone will encompass 13 acres. Construction workers will pour 200,000 cubic yards of concrete by project’s end. For some perspective, the Globe reports this is enough concrete to “lay a sidewalk the entire length of the Mass. Pike.” From concrete to destination casino The Wynn Boston Harbor will be just outside Boston. The property is only about 15-20 minutes by car from Logan International Airport. However, as in all major cities, the drive time is highly dependent on traffic. With its prime location, Wynn Resorts is building a full-fledged destination resort casino designed to attract visitors from all over the globe. During a keynote address at Global Gaming Expo 2014, Steve Wynn called Wynn Boston Harbor a “chance to build a grand hotel again” and give people a chance to experience the “good life” for a few days, to be a “big shot.” Wynn hopes to fulfill that mission by providing both gaming and non-gaming options. It’s the “non-casino story that is the story,” Wynn said at G2E. The 200,000-square-foot casino floor of the Wynn Boston Harbor will boast:
2,500 slot machines
150 table games
90-plus-table poker room The property’s dining and entertainment options are even more impressive:
A five-star hotel with 671 rooms
56,602 square feet of retail space
10 restaurants and bars
Full-service spa and gym
Multi-use convention space
Outdoor space
Indoor garden As mentioned in the Globe article, the Massachusetts casino will have plenty of parking, including 2,931 spaces in an attached, underground parking garage. The property will also have 800 parking spots offsite.

CT Governor, Senate Pick Sides In East Windsor Casino Battle

The bill allowing for a third Connecticut casino in East Windsor is through the state Senate. Do not expect it to get through the House any time soon though. The bill is also dealing with a new opponent. In addition to a pending lawsuit from MGM Resorts, Connecticut could face legal action form the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation as well. This difficult situation just keeps getting more complicated. Here is the latest. Senate approves East Windsor casino plan Last week the Senate approved a bill for a third casino by a vote of 24-12. The measure allows for the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to co-own and operate a third casino in East Windsor, CT. The tribes specifically advocated for that site in order to compete with the forthcoming MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. That property is just 23 miles from East Windsor. It is also expected to make a significant dent in the profits of existing CT casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort and Casino. The next step for the bill is the House, but lawmakers there are already making it clear the bill has problems. “It’s a very complicated issue in and of itself and the political piece is all over the place because you have competing interests and you’re talking about a lot of money,” said West Hartford Rep. Joe Verrengia. MGM and new tribe fighting the CT casino in court The bill simply grants the two tribes the right to a casino without any formal bidding process from outside parties. Therein lies the problem. MGM already filed suit against the state for unfairly excluding businesses from bidding on a casino. The Connecticut Attorney General went on the record earlier this year that the state put itself at risk for legal action moving forward on the East Windsor plan. Now, another tribe is threatening to take the state to court. The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation in Kent, CT spoke to the press after the bill passed. The Schaghticoke wants to open a casino in the state as well, but has not been able to as of yet. Representatives said the tribe would have no choice but to sue if a third casino went to tribes with existing casino interests without any competitive bidding. Chief Richard Velky of the Schaghticoke explains: CT Governor supports Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan The CT House has several influences encouraging the group to pass on the bill. There is the Schaghticoke Tribe, MGM Resorts, and the threat of pricey legal action. There is also a group of lawmakers who are averse to expanding state gambling with more casinos. Several local representatives are also trying to protect off-track gaming ventures, which would have trouble competing with another casino. One lawmaker who is fine with a third major casino? Governor Dannel P. Malloy. Malloy’s office openly came out in support of the East Windsor project after the Senate vote. “The legislature should remain focused on maintaining the state’s longstanding partnership with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal nations and protecting jobs,” a spokesperson said. Photo by Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com

Hope Quickly Fading For MA Online Gambling And Lottery This Year

When the year began, Massachusetts seemed to be one of the states most likely to advance online gambling or online lottery legislation. The year is not even halfway over, but the word from Boston is both causes are almost certainly not moving forward this year. Senate President tells online gaming better luck next year The bad news comes straight from the state’s Senate President Stan Rosenberg. Statehouse News (paywall) reported Rosenberg said in a radio interview the issues will almost certainly not be addressed this year. He did concede online gaming could be on the table for discussion in 2018. However, Rosenberg said the state needs to be certain both online lotteries and online casinos do not jeopardize their land-based counterparts: Cannibalization of land-based casinos again a concern Online gambling proponents certainly hate hearing about fears of cannibalization. After all, in New Jersey online casinos clearly benefit their brick and mortar counterparts. So much so, operators are lining up to try and obtain a license. As for online lottery, Michigan is a great example of how online and land-based lottery work hand-in-hand. The one brick and mortar casino in the state does think cannibalization could be a problem, unfortunately. Earlier this year, Plainridge Park urged lawmakers to approach online gambling with caution. General Manager Lance George said: On the other hand, MGM Resorts, which is in the process of building MGM Springfield, is a proponent of online gambling. In fact, the company just announced the launch of playMGM online poker and casino in New Jersey. Meanwhile, Wynn Resorts, who is also building a Massachusetts casino, recently said it would not stop online gambling legislation from passing. So where does online gambling progress stand in MA? Last year, the state passed a daily fantasy sports (DFS) bill into law. This indicates lawmakers are willing to move forward on gambling expansion. State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg is an ardent supporter of online lotteries. She advocated to The Sun Chronicle why such expansion is necessary: In reality though, the pursuit of online lottery regressed in 2017. Last year, the state legislature passed a bill in the Senate authorizing online lotto sales. It then went on to fail in the House. So far this year, there has been no progress on the online lottery front. A bill was introduced, only to go nowhere so far. There is also an online casino bill, S200, which Sen. Bruce Tarr filed in January. Rosenberg’s recent statements indicate neither bill is going anywhere. The lone glimmer of hope is that 2018 will be the year the legislature takes the two ideas seriously.

MGM Reveals New Details About Forthcoming Springfield Casino

Executives representing the forthcoming MGM Springfield Casino provided some specifics for the new nearly billion-dollar property at the latest City Council meeting on April 24. Thanks to a round of questions from local lawmakers, the casino company tipped its hand about details for the property. Topics discussed included restaurant selection, parking, and what will come of the 54 apartments planned as part of the project. MGM Springfield to feature two sit-down restaurants Local newspaper The Reminder was present at the City Council meeting and detailed the new revelations. One point of concern for local businesses was what kind of restaurant competition MGM would bring to town. The casino company is known for five-star dining. The company has numerous partnerships with celebrity chefs. New restaurants of that caliber could be stiff competition for existing Springfield culinary fare. Council members Michael Fenton, Justin Hurst, and Tim Allen asked casino representatives about many things, including the restaurants. In previous meetings, the subject came up. Specifically, members of the council wanted to know if MGM was planning an Italian restaurant. There is an existing Italian restaurant next door to the casino site known as Red Rose. Adolfo’s is another successful Italian place in the downtown Springfield area who could be affected. At the time, MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis said he had no intention of “putting another business out of business.” At this meeting, Mathis and company was more forthcoming and admitted the two restaurants would be an Italian restaurant and a steakhouse. Casino parking is still up for debate The casino plans include a 3,000-space parking garage. The original plans for the garage included free parking for casino patrons. Currently MGM still aims to deliver free parking. However, Mathis did say the company is reserving the right to charge for parking in the future. The city of Springfield imposed street parking bans several times throughout the winter during major snowstorms. No word whether or not the public safety measures influenced Mathis’ possible parking change of heart. 54 Springfield apartments still a matter for debate Part of the agreement MGM made with the city was to develop over 50 market rate apartments in Downtown Springfield concurrent with casino construction. The company purchased an old School Board building to convert into apartment units last year. Mathis said one of the problems with the project is developing units which can be rented at market rate for a profit. MGM is pursuing other buildings to acquire and convert into apartments, but Mathis and the other MGM representatives did warn that there may not be exactly 54 units available at “affordable” housing rates. Mathis reassured the council the company would do its best to fulfill the spirit of the housing agreement though. The casino will open in 2018. As of now, the $950 million casino project is roughly 30 percent complete.

Massachusetts Hopes PlayMyWay Teaches Gamblers To Play The Responsible Way

In its first year, more than 10 percent of eligible customers at the Plainridge Park Casino signed up for PlayMyWay, a gambling addiction prevention pilot program on a trial run in Massachusetts casinos. Of the more than 12,000 patrons who enrolled in the program, less than 2,000 (about 16 percent) have un-enrolled. That means roughly eight percent of current Plainridge patrons (10,857 players) registered for and continue to use PlayMyWay. Massachusetts Gaming Commission Director of Research and Problem Gambling Mark Vander Linden presented the data at a public hearing before the commission on June 14. Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance should release their initial report on the efficacy of PlayMyWay in August. Massachusetts’ wide-ranging research on gambling The research on PlayMyWay is a single piece of a larger study at the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences. The university has been tasked by the state to perform a “comprehensive, multi-year research project… on the economic and social impacts of introducing casino gambling in Massachusetts.” To carry out the research, the university created the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA). The SEIGMA research helps gauge the impact of gambling expansion. It also helps the university make “annual scientifically-based recommendations to the Legislature.” What is PlayMyWay? PlayMyWay is a pre-commitment program. In other words, there is a difference between it and similar programs in other countries. PlayMyWay eliminated the commitment. Instead, it acts as more of a budgeting tool and even a play/spend tracker. Per Vander Linden’s report to the MGC: Enrolling in PlayMyWay I live about 20 minutes away from Plainridge Casino, so I have first-hand experience with the program. It’s fairly unobtrusive. Here’s an overview of how it works. When customer insert their Marquee Rewards cards for the first time, they will be asked if they’d like to enroll in the program. If they select “no,” they can begin gambling. If they select “yes,” the machine prompts them to set a wagering budget of their choosing. The entire process takes a minute or two to complete. Casino incentives to join program At Plainridge Casino, the casino offers customers a $5 food voucher to join the program. That isn’t much of an incentive though. Especially when considering the casino offers $20 or more in free slot play when players sign up for its Marquee Rewards Program. According to Vander Linden, only 25 percent of the patrons who receive the food voucher redeem it. It’s fair to assume it’s not a strong enough incentive to noticeably impact participation. Vander Linden speculates the high participation rate in PlayMyWay is a byproduct of the GameSense advisors and casino employees. Both groups “actively promote, enroll, and answer any questions which casino guests may have about the program.” It will be interesting to see if one of the recommendations SEIGMA makes is for Massachusetts casinos to start offering PlayMyWay registrants a bigger carrot or some type of ongoing reward for continued participation in the program.

Casinos, Mayor Tell Massachusetts To Take It Easier On Convicts

Casino employees undergo an intense amount of scrutiny. Gaming commissions vet high-level casino executives. Casinos subject just about any gaming employee to drug tests and background checks too. In other words, the industry takes extreme measures to ensure safety and security when it comes to gambling. However, after a recent meeting of the Massachusetts Casino Commission, the state might loosen some of these strict regulations. Gaming commission strict about past criminal records During the May 25 meeting of the commission, a chief discussion point became the standards for casino employment. Casino representatives acknowledged the need for strict requirements of gaming employees. Where they want some leeway is non-gaming jobs. In particular, the company would like more employment opportunities for applicants with criminal records. “Why would the legislature hold the CEOS of MGM and Wynn to the same licensing standard as an entry- level dishwasher,” MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis asked. At the forthcoming MGM Springfield property, 1,000 of the 3,000 jobs at the Massachusetts casino have no connection to gaming. The company wants to offer these opportunities to a more diverse group of applicants, since the nature of the jobs do not require a squeaky-clean record. Currently, the state’s Gaming Act includes a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) background check. The list of crimes which pop up on CORI checks include serious felonies as well as a number of misdemeanors like minor drug possession and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The CORI disqualifier in the Gaming Act restricts MGM and other Massachusetts casinos from hiring many interested applicants. Springfield mayor agrees with casinos The casinos are not the only group advocating for change in the Gaming Act either. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno also spoke at the meeting and sided with the casinos. “The irony here is that I am a law and order mayor, but where it makes sense, some flexibility should be explored, and where appropriate, allowed,” Sarno said. Sarno also cited the high unemployment rate in Springfield as a reason to consider change. The county’s unemployment rate is significantly higher than the rest of the state. Moreover, the high CORI standards tend to unduly affect minorities and impoverished residents. A group of City Council members for Springfield also signed a letter backing up Sarno and MGM, as did numerous local leaders. One opponent was MA House Speaker Robert Deleo, who thinks casinos should wait until casinos open. Once that happens, the group can assess how the employment laws are working. How to change the casino employment laws? The Casino Commission did not vote on the issue during the meeting. Part of the reason they did not is because the group is unsure if they have the authority to make such a change. Yes, the group oversees casino development in the state. However, since the Gaming Act established these employment standards, there are concerns the changes must be done at a legislative level. Photo by 4kclips / Shutterstock.com

California iGaming Week in Review: US iGaming Forum and PPA Fights Back

It’s been a fairly quiet week on the California iGaming front, but don’t let this fool you into thinking the debate is fizzling, or that the two bills that have been introduced in the state assembly and state senate are doomed to irrelevancy and will rot away like all of the state’s previous attempts to legalize online poker. In fact, the iGaming conversation is California has never been more robust; nor has it ever been more complicated, as some of the remarks made by California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC) Chairman Richard Schuetz at the Online Gaming USA forum in Atlantic City indicate. So what did Schuetz say? Keep reading to find out the latest information on the California iGaming front. Tweets from the US iGaming Forum In less than two weeks the California legislature will host an online poker forum, which is sure to be informative, exciting, and controversial, but we may have gotten a little bit of a preview of what might be covered and discussed at the April 23rd hearing, thanks to the Online Gaming USA forum that just wrapped up in Atlantic City. The Borgata Casino in Atlantic City played host to the Online Gaming USA forum on April 10th and 11th, and there was plenty of California representation — and plenty of California talk — as Richard Schuetz from the California Gambling Control Commission was in attendance. The forum covered a number of different aspects of the iGaming world and the US landscape including:
What the market leaders have learned since online gaming first went live 6 months ago
What a successful baseline online gaming business model looks like
The regulatory, legal and commercial pitfalls that operators need to avoid as they enter the online space
How partnerships between gaming operators and suppliers are being used to overcome barriers to entry for online gaming
Consolidating your land-based, online, social and mobile ventures to offer a streamlined and fully integrated experience to your player base
How traditional land-based casino operators are making the transition into the online world
What suppliers interested in entering the market need to know Luckily, iGaming Player was on hand at the forum tweeting all the action (you may remember iGaming Player’s Twitter account broke the news regarding PokerStars tentative partnership with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and three California cardrooms) and there were a couple of interesting nuggets regarding California that came to light in their tweets, as Schuetz was paraphrased as saying: The tone of the discussion in California has changed and “things are happening.” Schuetz also warned the forum to bed wary of a federal bill, saying that it could wipe out the industry, and he also poo-pooed the ideal of California signing an interstate compact unless there was some economic reason for doing so. All of these topics will likely be expanded upon during the California hearing on the 23rd. PPA issues a call to action Despite making little progress (has there been any mention of the proposed bans introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz since they were first announced?) Sheldon Adelson is still battling tooth and nail against online poker, which means supporters of online gambling expansion need to keep fighting as well. While we are certainly the winning the war, it’s certainly not won yet. And this is precisely what the Poker Players Alliance is doing, keeping the opposition on their heels and making sure they remain on the defensive, trying to defend their double-standards and inconsistent positions. This past week the PPA issued a “Call to Action,” asking its 1,000,000+ supporters to fight back against Adelson’s bans, and hopefully win the battle once and for all — though this is doubtful when you’re fighting the 9th richest man in the world. Here is the message from the PPA: Washington, D.C. (April 10, 2014) – ­The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the leading poker grassroots advocacy group with more than one million members nationwide, today launched a national call to action campaign to encourage Americans to fight back against the recently introduced legislation to ban online poker. The poker community has been eager to raise concerns over the direct assault recent legislation introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (S. 2159) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (H.R. 4301) and guided by the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, will have on their personal freedoms. While many of PPA’s members have voiced their frustrations, this call to action will elevate the campaign and broaden the message for all Members of Congress. “We have learned time and time again throughout history that prohibition is not the solution for protecting consumers and actually does more harm than good,” said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA. “We cannot stand by and allow for misguided legislation to reverse the incredible advancements we have made in consumer and player protections and the ability of the individual states to determine whether to regulate online poker. “The National Conference of State Legislatures and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries also recently expressed their opposition to these efforts on the grounds that they would undermine states’ authority. I encourage all Americans who oppose a ban on our online freedoms to join us in reaching out to your Member of Congress and letting them know you do not support these bills,” continued Pappas. A key component of the campaign is a newly launched webpage offering easy to use resources for PPA members and all Americans to raise their concerns around the attempted prohibition of online poker. Through the webpage players are provided:
Tools to reach out to their Member of Congress via an email, call or direct meeting
Tools to raise the issue directly to Members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees and anti-poker policymakers via Twitter
Talking points and recommendations for raising the issue at a public event Leveraging the upcoming two week Congressional recess, the PPA is urging Americans to engage directly with their elected officials in their own home offices. Daily updates and information will also be provided via PPA’s Facebook and Twitter channels. California iGaming Barometer Not much has changed over the course of the past week. California is still the frontrunner when it comes to online gambling expansion, but this is along the lines of being the valedictorian of summer school as most peopled see the chances of California passing an online poker bill this year no better than 25%, and that’s the high-water mark. More answers will likely emerge at the upcoming hearing mentioned above, which is when we should start to have a good understanding of where people stand, and how unbending they are when it comes to their current positions, especially in regards to the bad actor clauses. Previous Post Next Post morongo|pokerstars About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

Connecticut Senate Approves New Casino, MGM Vows Vengeance

The Connecticut House of Representatives passed a bill last Wednesday that authorizes the state’s two gaming tribes, the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, to build a $300 million satellite casino in East Windsor. The bill previously passed the Senate in May. It will now be sent to Gov. Dan Malloy. Malloy hasn’t signaled if he will sign the legislation. Even if he does, the casino might never be built — MGM plans on challenging it, if it becomes law. Why an East Windsor casino? The project’s proponents hope the casino will help offset the anticipated cannibalization from new casinos in Massachusetts and New York. East Windsor is in northern Connecticut, about 15 minutes from the Massachusetts border. The town is less than a half-hour from Springfield, Massachusetts, where MGM plans to open a billion-dollar casino in the fall of 2018. Both casinos sites are located right on the very busy I-91 roadway. The tribes likely believe their casino would act as a choke point for travelers who would otherwise drive the extra 30 minutes to Springfield, but wouldn’t drive the extra hour to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun. Without the East Windsor casino, MGM Springfield is equidistant or closer than the current tribal casinos for most Connecticut residents. Plus, its newness would likely make it a more attractive destination. MGM challenging the casino in court As noted in the opening, the bill will face legal challenges. According to MassLive.com, MGM Resorts International Senior VP and legal counsel Uri Clinton says his company “will continue to vigorously advocate in the courts as we seek to protect the constitutional rights of any company hoping to do business in Connecticut.” MGM isn’t necessarily challenging the location of the casino. Rather, MGM opposes the closed process that granted the license to the two Connecticut tribes without considering other proposals. Clinton commented after the House vote: MGM advocates casino near NY Of course, MGM would love to see the casino project moved farther from its Massachusetts casino location. In a June op-ed, MGM CEO Jim Murren let the cat out of the bag about wanting the state to open up its process to commercial casinos. In the op-ed, Murren calls for an open process. He also makes the case for locating the casino in Bridgeport, which happens to be his hometown. Bridgeport is in the southwestern corner of Connecticut, about an hour-and-a-half from Springfield. It is only 65 miles from New York City. Effectively, MGM’s goal is to open up the process not to build a better casino in East Windsor. Its end goal is to build a better casino farther away from Massachusetts though. As Murren notes in his op-ed:

CT Casino Employees Converge On Hartford To Talk MGM Springfield Competition

While MGM Resorts continues construction on its $950 million casino resort in Springfield, MA, the company keeps fighting a legal battle in neighboring Connecticut. Tribal casinos in CT and MGM continue to spar about a proposed tribal casino in East Windsor, CT. On Wednesday, CT casino employees met with lawmakers in Hartford to voice growing concern about job loss. Workers are increasingly worried the forthcoming MGM Springfield could compromise their livelihoods. Tribes say 9,000 casino jobs at risk Employees from the Mashantucket Pequot-owned Foxwoods and Mohegan-owned Mohegan Sun casinos turned up for the Hartford meeting. Foxwoods employee Donald MacPhee explained his greatest concern to local news station WWLP: The East Windsor project is under fire from MGM. Representatives of the casino company say the state needs to open up the bidding on the new CT casino beyond the tribes. Moreover, the casino conglomerate is pursuing the issue in court, saying the state does not have the legal right to hand the casino project to the tribes. The Mashantucket and Mohegan partnership (MMCT) claims the only way to save an estimated 9,300 jobs in CT is to greenlight a third tribal casino in the East Windsor area. Residents of East Windsor support the casino proposal. Furthermore, State Sen. Tim Larson told the Hartford Courant he is behind the plan as well: MGM proposes alternative casino site in Fairfield County The tribes say East Windsor is the best site for a casino to protect CT gaming interests and generate revenue. Unsurprisingly, MGM has a completely different take. The Springfiled casino owners claim Fairfield County is a better site for a new venue. Located near the New York state line, a Fairfield County casino would arguably contend with the increasing casino competition in upstate NY. In March, MGM offered to pay 30-35 percent taxes on gaming revenue if given the chance to build in Fairfield County. The company claims at those rates, the revenue from a property in Bridgeport would offset losses from Springfield competition. Tribal consultant Clyde Barrow suggests a Bridgeport casino would need $1 billion dollars in annual gaming revenue to recoup losses from competition. However, Uri Clinton, an MGM vice president, strongly disagrees: During a committee hearing last month, state Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff noted the biggest flaw in the Fairfield plan. “There is a fundamental problem with that proposal,” he explained. “Fairfield County does not want a casino. There are not the votes to pass legislation for a Fairfield County casino.” Breaking the CT casino monopoly could cost the state Should the state listen to MGM’s Fairfield proposal and open up bidding, it could prove extremely costly. After all, the existing agreement between the state and the tribes is based on casino exclusivity. In exchange for no competition, the tribes give 25 percent of slots revenue to the state. If the state breaks the monopoly, the tribes arguably could stop payment on $267 million in annual slots revenue. While a Fairfield casino could arguably offset competition from Springfield, it would not earn enough to recoup such a loss. In other words, the state needs to decide if compromising the existing tribal relationship is worth opening up casino competition. Effectively, this third casino is turning into a bargaining chip for the tribes. This week, MMCT assured state lawmakers tribes would continue payments if the bill for the East Windsor property passes. Even though the monopoly could compromise the revenue agreement per the AG, the tribes insist they will continue to support the state. “We’ve said from the beginning that we want to help the state we have called home for centuries,” Mashantucket Chairman Rodney Butler told The Day. While the tribes seem willing to work with the state, the battle with MGM seems far from over.