Bridgeport casino proponents eye 2019 legislative comeback
Bridgeport casino proponents vowed to return to Connecticut’s state capitol next year and prod lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow casino operators to compete in an open license bidding process.
The Hartford Courant reported that the casino backers have already started their campaign to allow the opening of $675 Million MGM resort casino on the Bridgeport waterfront just a week after the state senate decided to shelve the bill.
Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim led lawmakers and Bridgeport casino supporters in a gathering at the office of Bridgeport Landing Development on Tuesday as they celebrated their ‘win’ in the General Assembly, even though they failed to muster enough support in the Senate.
Ganim, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, said their victory in the lower chamber of Congress is huge since it is the first time in 25 years that any piece of gaming legislation has gotten out of the House chamber.
“And the next step is to clear the Senate and then get it signed,” Ganim said, according to the news outlet.
Bridgeport Democrat Rep. Christopher Rosario, who lobbied hard for the General Assembly to pass the bill, admitted that “it was a bit of a long shot” when they filed the legislation. State Rep. Steven Stafstrom, on the other hand, reaffirmed their commitment to fight for the casino project.
Stafstrom believes that Connecticut needs an “open, transparent and honest process and discussion” on casino gambling, saying, “If we’re going to open casinos off of tribal lands, then that conversation must be had in public.”
The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes, operators of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino, have repeatedly argued that they have the exclusive right to operate gaming machines in Connecticut in exchange for a portion of their slot machine revenues.
In 2017, the tribes announced its plans to build a $300 million casino in East Windsor to siphon the gambling dollars that might go to MGM Springfield, which is located across the Massachusetts border. However, their East Windsor project saw some delays after the U.S. Department of the Interior sat on their request to operate a casino.
While waiting for their permits, the two tribes are reportedly eyeing a piece of the Japanese casino market. Representatives of the tribal groups were present in Japan Gaming Conference that was held in Tokyo on Friday and both expressed their intention to compete for one of three (or possibly five) casino licenses in the Asian country.
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