The state will lose about 9,300 jobs by 2019, if gambling facilities in New York and Massachusetts cannibalize $703 million in gaming and non-gaming revenues from Connecticut’s two Indian casinos.
That’s according to a new report commissioned by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes.
“Revenue losses translate into job losses,” Clyde W. Barrow, the consultant who authored the report, said Monday at a press conference. “No two facilities can see their revenue decline by $700 million and maintain the same levels of employment.”
The report found that four planned casinos in New York and Massachusetts will by 2019 cannibalize $570 million in gross gaming revenues that otherwise would have gone to Connecticut’s two casinos. And they will cannibalize an additional $133 million in non-gaming revenues. That’s $703 million less in gross revenue generated by those two casinos. It also means the state of Connecticut will lose $100 million per year in revenue based on its slot revenue sharing agreement with the tribes. That translates into 5,800 direct casino jobs, 1,890 non-gaming vendors, and 1,598 jobs tied to spending by casino employees.
That’s if nothing is done, Barrow said.
The biggest threat the two casinos in southeastern Connecticut face at the moment is from the MGM Springfield, which is billing itself as a “destination casino” like Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. There’s legislation that would allow the two tribes to work together and build up to three casinos outside their respective reservations, but the one north of Hartford along the I-91 corridor is the most urgent.
By building a casino north of Hartford, Barrow estimated that “there’s $253 million from Connecticut residents that can be blocked.”
The two tribes have talked about building a $300 million gambling facility, which is comparable to the size of the gambling facility planned by MGM Springfield. Barrow said that’s enough to house 1,500 to 2,000 slot machines and some table games.
Barrow said if the new Connecticut facility gets built before 2017 and intercepts $180 million in gaming revenue, then the MGM Springfield may have to rethink the size of its facility, which broke ground last week.
Barrow, who studies gaming in the northeast, said there’s been a $2.5 billion increase in gaming revenues since 2009, but some of the growth at new facilities has come at the expense of existing facilities, particularly in Connecticut and New Jersey.
Kevin Brown, chairman of the Mohegan tribe, said they commissioned the report because they want to continue the education process about casino expansion.
“The initial response has been bifurcated,” Brown said. “Folks are either for it, or against it.”
It has passed the Public Safety and Security Committee and likely will need to be approved by other committees before going to the Senate floor.
Negotiations with lawmakers continue as municipalities along the I-91 corridor begin to express their interest or lack of interest. Windsor’s Town Council is expected to pass a resolution tonight against casino expansion in their town.
“Wherever we go we have to have a municipality that’s excited about having this opportunity,” Brown said.
Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, said what they’re looking to build in Connecticut north of Hartford is essentially the same size casino as the MGM Springfield without the hotel.
“So it will absolutely compete,” Butler said.
Brown said the core of the facility they are talking about building is 2,000 slots and 75 tables. If there was any doubt a facility of that size could make a difference, Barrow pointed to Twin River Casino in Rhode Island.
Butler said he doesn’t believe people in Connecticut realize the impact Twin River had on gaming revenue in Connecticut. He said they’re doing $600 million in gaming revenue, which is comparable to what Foxwoods is doing today.
Twin Rivers has 4,500 video slot machines, as well as 80 live table games, according to Wikipedia.
“At the end of the day, this isn’t about Mohegan, this isn’t about Pequot, this is about the state of Connecticut,” Brown said.