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Doubling Down: Legislature Mulls Three New Casinos

by | Mar 10, 2015 12:08pm
() Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Gaming, Jobs, Labor

Christine Stuart photo

Sen. President Martin Looney with Mohegan Chairman Kevin Brown and a drawing of the customer base for the new MGM Springfield casino

Connecticut will roll the dice on a proposal to allow three more casino gaming facilities, with the first slated to be built at an as-yet unspecified spot along the Interstate 91 corridor.

At a press conference Tuesday, legislators, representatives from both the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, and labor advocates spoke about the competition Connecticut faces from an increased number of gaming facilities in neighboring states.

“Massachusetts has declared war on us and we are going to fight back,” Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said.

A proposed casino in Springfield, Mass., will be open and ready for business in two-and-a-half years, Duff said. The hope is to have a new Connecticut facility north of Hartford up and running within that timeframe.

The two tribes will be cooperating on this venture, and local approval must still be sought. The bill being introduced Tuesday will pave the way for that approval.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, who was not present at Tuesday’s press conference, expressed support for the proposal, though with some reservations.

“I am supportive of the tribes’ pursuit of a new facility that would be a direct defensive move in response to the Massachusetts casino, particularly the one in Springfield,” Sharkey said Tuesday. “I need to know a little bit more detail about what is going to be pursued in this session, as opposed to the larger-scale plan.”

According to Duff, the number of casinos in the Northeast has more than doubled in the last 10 years. Simultaneously, Connecticut’s share of revenue from the state’s two existing gaming facilities has been cut in half, with the the number of jobs in those casinos decreasing.

“This is our clarion call,” Duff said. “We’re going to fight for jobs in eastern Connecticut.”

A report released last week by the Northeastern Gaming Research Project said revenue from the two casinos in the state has declined by 39 percent since peaking in 2006. For Foxwoods, that translates to total revenue in 2014 of $892 million, down from $1.6 billion in 2006. Mohegan Sun Casino brought in $1 billion in 2014 compared to $1.6 billion eight years earlier.

In 2004, Connecticut’s pact with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes garnered $430 million for the state. That number dropped to about $200 million last year.

Senate President Martin Looney said the state’s casinos “are still a significant revenue source,” and that competition from New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts has forced the state to expand its gaming.

“This is a way to try to defend what we have,” he said.

Connecticut’s casinos are profitable, Mohegan Chairman Kevin Brown said, though largely through shifts in the organizational business model, and “what that really means is a reduction in jobs,” he said.

In addition to the Springfield project, Massachusetts may license two more gaming facilities. Construction of a $630 million casino is underway in Monticello, New York.

“We will not step aside and let any other state, New York or Massachusetts, take jobs away from Connecticut,” Sen. Cathy Osten said. “This is about jobs, all day long.”

According to a release issued by Senate Democrats, Mohegan Sun employs more than 7,000 individuals, and spends $249 annually on 760 vendors from 141 Connecticut towns. Foxwoods, the older of the two casinos, employs about 5,500 people from 134 town in Connecticut.

Though the plan is to start with a single casino —with slots and tables, but no hotel or music venue — the bill as proposed will allow for two additional facilities, with the intention of building more as competition increases.

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(11) Archived Comments

posted by: Biff Winnetka | March 10, 2015  1:14pm

CT and MA…old, rusty and broke.
Does anyone else see this casino madness as a sign of a fiscally failing state?
The states we should be aiming to compete with are Texas, Florida, South Carolina…the new, shiny, growing states…that coincidentally all the job and career seekers are flocking to.

posted by: justsayin | March 10, 2015  2:28pm

We can be the next Atlantic City! Broke and deserted, good plan.

posted by: wmwallace | March 10, 2015  3:10pm

The casino’s won’t do it anymore and yet people in the legislation are trying this game once again. Just look at Atlantic City if you want to see a collapse of depending on casino’s

posted by: Biff Winnetka | March 10, 2015  3:42pm

This is what keeps Malloy awake at night and what he secretly prays for…Will the wheels remain on Connecticut’s economy for the next two years so he can bail on years 3 and 4 of his second term (and the next budget cycle) and escape just ahead of the pitchforks to a cush DC job in President Elizabeth Warren’s Administration.

posted by: LE 2015 | March 10, 2015  6:35pm

This is a bad idea. We cannot build our economy on people losing money in slot machines. We have 2 casinos, lotteries, otb and the state is declining. Time for people in this state to wake up.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | March 10, 2015  6:48pm

Duff didn’t say this was our “clarion call” did he? No ......... looney i say!  that’s just looney! 

how does building a casino north of Hartford help jobs in eastern connecticut?  anyone?

and no music venue?  serious?  ask the tribes if they ever have a bigger crowd on a non-music night than a night when the theater or arena are full.

i can’t begin to tell you how stooopid our elected losers sound .......

HST

posted by: johnnyb | March 10, 2015  8:02pm

More! More! More! Osten says we will kep building to protect jobs. Who is paying for this and are we still only getting 1/4 of the slots? The Democrats are jackwagons and are really stuck in the emperor has no clothes web as cutting spending is never their answer. When people embezzle or steal money and blow it at the casino the casino gets to keep the money. We the taxpayers pay to arrest and prosecute these individuals who have ruined their lives courtesy of the casinos. Who in their right mind would stop at a half butt CT casino on the road to Springfield and not go to the larger newer facility? These folks in the State legislature are going to have us so far in debt by not slowing spending that we will hit the point of no return if we haven’t already. Is anyone predicting things will be better in 2 years Sen. Osten? What are you going to do then? How about a permanent reduction in the State workforce and correcting the oversupply of supervisors/managers?

posted by: MyOpinion | March 11, 2015  7:25am

what are we an Indian reservation? 2 casino’s are enough!!!

posted by: dano860 | March 11, 2015  8:11am

Lets see, there was a dog track in Plainfield….what happened there? All that’s left there is an empty lot. It would be nice if a manufacturing facility, a large company would locate there.
They could put a gambling facility at the crossroads in East Hartford, right next to the UCONN stadium. That should get the few remaining pennies out of the pockets of the low income people in the capital region. Dannel was reelected by the city’s maybe they should just drop them next to those areas. It would give the areas people job opportunities, right?
They should list the types of jobs these places will create. Not the construction jobs, the long term jobs.
There is a great location in Willington on Rt 84. They tried to put a music venue in there a few years ago and the proverbial NIMBY gang shut that down. They would be just as riled up if they thought a gambling venue was planned to be plopped there too.
No matter what they do or where they think a gambling facility will work they will not bring in more money. Slicing the pie into smaller pieces will look like the attempt to get more taxes from Sunday alcohol sales. The expenses associated with operating these places will consume any perceived profit.
In the end though, are these the type of jobs we want to foster? Do you want to instill the vision of being a gambling facility employee into the head of your child. Are you willing to give them a $50 K per year college education with the goal of being a gambling facility employee?
I’m surprised they didn’t jump on the Keno band wagon again!

posted by: Janster57 | March 11, 2015  12:50pm

The proposal is a joint effort by the Tribes, Democratic politicians, and labor advocates. Why would anyone doubt that it’s good for Connecticut?

posted by: Campaigner1 | March 13, 2015  11:53pm

Let’s see.  The problem is CT casinos are losing business to competing casinos.  So the answer is to build even more casinos!!??!! 

For example: a casino in Springfield will likely draw gamblers from Hartford and points northwest because it will be closer than the Mohegan and Foxwoods casinos.  So we build one in, say, Windsor.  Now that casino draws gamblers from Hartford to maybe Enfield, because it is now closer than Springfield, Mohegan and Foxwoods.
To do so requires constructing and operating a casino with equivalent facilities to those of Foxwoods and Mohegan, but which will draw mostly from the limited area described above. Hardly enough clientele to support a first class casino. Further, the Windsor casino will likely draw away some of the present Mohegan/Foxwoods clientele
With this “beggar thy neighbor” strategy, all of the casinos in CT and the surrounding states will either go the way of the Atlantic City casinos or will, at best, struggle to be marginally profitable.
There is a relatively fixed pot of gambling money.  Instead of trying to cut it up into smaller chunks, let Mohegan and Foxwoods do what they can to draw clientele, without the burden of constructing and maintaining additional casinos.