MGM Resorts International has brought a complaint against the Connecticut Airport Authority and its practice of placing itself into executive session during monthly meetings to discuss the “negotiating strategy” regarding its bid to bring Connecticut’s third casino to Bradley International Airport.
MGM, which is developing a $950 million Springfield casino and entertainment complex, has taken its argument to the state Information Commission citing that such discussions aren’t protected by the state’s right-to-know laws. The item was again on the agenda at the airport authority’s meeting on Monday. MGM spokesman Bernard Kavaler said, “Transparency and accountability should be rock-solid core values for a public agency, and the public’s right to know should come first,” according to the Hartford Courant.
The complaint to the commission by MGM is its latest move in opposition to the manner in which the potential development of the state’s third casino in the Hartford area is playing out. The casino giant is already in the midst of litigation regarding the legislature’s passing of the law last year that enabled the tribal operators of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods to search for a site. The argument by MGM is that they, as well as others, were unfairly excluded due to the law. That lawsuit is still pending.
In addition to the complaint regarding the airport authority, MGM has a separate filing with the Information Commission having to do with the authority not releasing documents related to the plans for the casino. The practice was defended by the airport authority on Monday, saying that discussing its strategy publicly would allow competitors an advantage. The executive director of the airport authority, Kevin A. Dillon, said that it is the belief of the authority that it is within its rights to go into executive session due to the fact that right-to-know laws exempt lease negotiations. And, said Dillon, a lease would be necessary should a casino be established at the airport. Dillon went on to say that should the airport be chosen for the state’s third casino, any required approvals from the town and any proposals would be thoroughly aired.
The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribe’s partnership is looking to build a “satellite” casino in order to lessen the competitiveness of MGM’s Springfield venue, which is slated to open in late 2018. The main argument for their push for the third casino in the Hartford area has been preventing the loss of jobs and Connecticut’s share of yearly slot revenue. Final approval of the tribe’s proposal is still required by the legislature and isn’t guaranteed. Since last fall, the tribe’s search for a location for a third casino has slowed but they have narrowed it down to the towns of East Hartford, Hartford, and Windsor Locks.
Meanwhile, two potential locations have been outlined by the airport authority at Bradley International Airport. One is a new transportation center with a $225 million price tag or at the site of the former Murphy terminal.