The casino operator MGM Resorts International announced its plan to open a gambling facility in the biggest city in Connecticut, Bridgeport. The casino project is estimated to worth $600 million and it is to be realized in a partnership with RCI Group, offering also financial incentives for the state. Despite the lucrative idea, there is one big problem in front of the casino project, and that is the local tribal nations’ exclusive rights, which will be violated in case the state’s officials allow MGM to establish its casino. This, on the other hand, is most likely to result in a gambling expansion discussion and law reform.
About MGM’s Casino Project
This Monday MGM sealed a deal with RCI Group to jointly establish the $600 million casino resort in Bridgeport and operate it. To realize the project, though, the state’s authorities need to approve the plan and issue a casino license. At a press conference, which took place yesterday, MGM CEO Jim Murrren announced that the casino is to offer gambling and non-gambling activities. Mr. Murren added that 2,000 slot machines and 160 table games are to spread over the casino floor. Besides the gambling offerings, the operator’s plan includes a hotel, boosting 300 rooms, stores, restaurants and a theater. But under the Connecticut law, which gives the Indian tribes exclusive rights to casinos, foreign operators are not allowed to establish their gambling facility. This means that the state’s policymakers need to discuss a possible gambling expansion package of legislation.
Jim Murrren underlined that the realization of the casino project will boost the local economy and decrease the unemployment rate. Mr. Mirren also did not miss the opportunity to note that the tribal casino payments started to plummet in the recent years. Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim was also present at the conference. He expressed his support to the casino project, which is slated to open within 30 months in case the state’s officials gave it the approving nod.
MGM’s Quest for Justice
The casino project in Bridgeport aims to challenge the two Indian nations’ exclusive rights to casinos. Under the state’s legal framework, the Indian tribes were allowed to build a competing casino in East Windsor, which is a non-tribal land. This ruffled the feathers of MGM, resulting in a lawsuit filed by the operator. The company claimed that the law violates the U.S. Constitution, which grants equal rights to everyone. Long story in short, the state’s officials did not allow foreign operators to participate in the bidding race for the operation of the state’s third casino. The court ruled out in favor of the tribes, considering MGM’s intentions for establishing a gambling venue in Connecticut as not serious. The East Windsor casino project is still pending a go-ahead from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. To tip the balance in their favor, the two tribal nations agreed on paying 25% tax on their total gross gaming revenue, instead of the current 25% only on slot machines revenue.
It is yet to become clear how this battle is to end and if the lawmakers will introduce some changes in the state’s legal framework, allowing MGM to realize its joint casino venture. The lawmakers will have the heavy task to find a solution to the years-long problem, serving public’s best interest.