After being blasted by MGM Resorts International over its preferred choice of sites earlier this week, the Native American joint venture that is hoping to build a new casino in northern Connecticut has now reportedly received similar criticism from a local property developer.
According to a report from Connecticut television news broadcaster WVIT-TV, MMCT Venture is an enterprise of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and last week announced that it wants to build its envisioned casino in either the communities of East Windsor or Windsor Locks.
This decision meant that MMCT Venture had passed on sites in the cities of Hartford, South Windsor and East Hartford while the planned casino would reportedly sit only around 15 miles away from the coming $950 million MGM Springfield project from MGM Resorts International, which is scheduled to open across the border in Massachusetts in the autumn of 2018.
Tony Ravosa from developer Silver Lane Partners was pushing MMCT Venture to build its new casino in East Hartford, which is approximately 29 miles from MGM Springfield, and told WVIT-TV that his preferred site is superior to either of the selected locations in East Windsor and Windsor Locks.
“At 283,000 vehicles a day, this is the most heavily trafficked interchange in the entire state of Connecticut,” Ravosa told WVIT-TV at a Hartford press conference. “We are located twelve to 15 miles closer to the state’s population hubs north of Hartford, logically yielding to greater trip frequency.”
Ravosa reportedly also declared that the East Hartford location, which he envisions featuring a hotel along with other commercial developments, was “unmatched” as the site for the state’s third Class III casino and that he would continue efforts to develop the site.
“In short, development of the third casino must be a building block and a catalyst for other ancillary economic development initiatives and not merely cast as an island unto itself,” Ravosa told the broadcaster.
The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority operates the giant Mohegan Sun casino in south-eastern Connecticut while the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation is responsible for the nearby Foxwoods Resort Casino and both reportedly previously stated that their Hartford County venture would serve as a defensive measure against the competitive threat posed by the coming MGM Springfield.
For its part MMCT Venture reportedly explained that Ravosa’s disapproval amounted to nothing more than sour grapes and that the goal of its planned casino development was to “protect Connecticut jobs and revenues”.
“With all due respect to Mr Ravosa, he believes East Hartford is the best site because he has the option on the land and it would have been good for him personally if East Hartford was selected,” Andrew Doba from MMCT Venture told WVIT-TV.
The Connecticut General Assembly will reportedly have the final say on whether to approve the site for the planned Hartford County casino, which would be operated jointly by the two tribes while being located on commercial and not tribal land, and Ravosa urged lawmakers to quickly get involved in the selection process.
“The [Connecticut] General Assembly should not simply abdicate to MMCT Venture’s wishes based purely on its say-so,” Ravosa told WVIT-TV.