HARTFORD, CT — The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes are asking Connecticut leaders to include them in any conversations about a potential Bridgeport casino.
A letter from Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Chairman Rodney Butler and Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown was sent to House and Senate leaders Wednesday. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was copied on the letter, as well as Attorney General George Jepsen.
The letter sought to remind the state about the relationship it has with the tribes and the mutual financial benefit derived from the slot revenue sharing agreements, which “steered more than $7 billion in direct payment to the state’s General Fund and created billions more in other economic activity.”
The letter comes a day after MGM Resorts International’s top executive, Jim Murren, spoke to a Bridgeport business group to promote the company’s proposal for a $675 million resort casino in Bridgeport.
Murren contends the revenue-sharing agreement Connecticut signed more than two decades ago with the tribes, granting them exclusive rights to casino gambling, “should be revisited.”
In their letter to the legislators Wednesday, Brown and Butler reminded them that during the recently concluded legislative session that they authorized the construction of a new facility in East Windsor. “We are moving forward with that project, and want to thank you for your continued support,” the letter said.
Brown and Butler said that in 2015 they proposed three new facilities, one in north-central Connecticut, one in the Danbury area, and one in Fairfield County.
“It was the Legislature’s decision to move forward with only one site in the north-central Hartford region. If circumstances have changed and there is now real interest in putting a casino in Bridgeport, we want to be a part of that discussion,” the letter said.
“Over the past 30 years, many promises have been made to residents of the Park City. Few if any have come to fruition. We, like so many others, see the tremendous potential of Bridgeport and would love to be one of the catalysts that lead to a real revival,” Brown and Butler said.
Legislative leaders said they hadn’t seen the letter Wednesday and were unable to comment.
Malloy said in fairness to the tribes what they’re saying is true. The original proposal was for three new casinos in Connecticut.
He said it’s more of a reaction to what MGM has been doing to establish relationships and lay the groundwork for a Bridgeport casino.
“I suppose what the tribes were saying is ‘Hey, if it’s good for the goose it’s good for the gander’,” Malloy said.
In a letter sent to Malloy and legislative leaders on Thursday, MGM Vice President Uri Clinton said the tribes request to be part of the discussion “is good news for the people of Connecticut.”
Clinton’s letter states that MGM has participated in competitive processes to build casinos in other states and are prepared to do so in Connecticut.
MGM had argued unsuccessfully during the recent legislative session that the General Assembly should open up the bidding process for a new casino, instead of giving the tribes the green light to open an East Windsor casino. The tribes have said the East Windsor location is an attempt to head off traffic going north to MGM’s new Springfield, Mass. casino scheduled to open next year.
The tribes have been unable to break ground on an East Windsor casino because the Department of Interior has not ruled yet on whether it would impact its current revenue sharing agreements with the state. The state and the tribes sued the federal government earlier this month in an effort to get a clear answer.