After narrowly making it through the Connecticut House of Representatives May 4th Session, legislation that could see MGM Resorts International spend upwards of $675 million to develop a casino gaming facility in Bridgeport, died on Tuesday (pdf) in the Senate this week.
With the Connecticut General Assembly 2018 Regular Session having adjourned on May 9th, proponents of HB 5305 say the measure is now officially dead until next year.
The Hartford Courant reports that Bridgeport Democrat Rep. Charlie Stallworth, said HB 5305 would not be debated and “that we would do the process again next year.’’
Meanwhile, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s comment to the news agency was even more nondescript, saying “That’s not an issue that I’ve spent a lot of time on.” And, “I figured either it would get to my office, and I would spend time on it, or it wouldn’t get to my office, and I wouldn’t have to spend time on it.’’
MGM Resorts International, already responsible for the $960 million integrated resort casino slated for an August 24 grand opening in neighboring Massachusetts, in September last year unveiled a plan that would see it partner with Miami-based developer RCI Group to build a $675 million waterfront casino located along Long Island Sound in Bridgeport’s Steelpointe Harbor, complete with over 100,000 square feet of gaming space and a 300-room hotel.
Meanwhile, MGM’s Springfield facility is in direct competition with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes which run Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun respectively. The two federally recognized tribes which currently enjoy exclusivity over gaming in Connecticut answered MGM’s plan for a Bridgeport casino by proposing a casino of their own to be located in northern Connecticut, within 20 miles of Springfield.
Opponents of HB 5305 say that endorsing the measure could threaten the slot revenue sharing agreement that was negotiated in the 1990’s by the state with tribes. The shared slot machine revenues have, since the two casinos opened over 20 years ago, benefitted the state by upwards of $7 billion cumulatively, according to the Hartford Courant.
While the casino expansion legislation will reportedly have to wait until another House and then state Senate vote next year, MGM and RCI Group were optimistic, saying in a statement that “A year ago, the bill never received a floor vote.” And explaining that, “This year it passed the House. That is significant. We realize that change is hard and takes time, and we respect the delegations’ preference not to dominate debate with this issue with much to accomplish in a short time in the session’s final hours,” according to the news agency.
HB 5305 called for an investment of at least $500 million, an application fee of $50 million (refundable to unsuccessful bidders) and the creations of a minimum of 2,000 jobs.