HARTFORD, CT — On Tuesday the Public Safety and Security Committee will get an update from tribal officials regarding their plans for an East Windsor casino that’s intended to compete with MGM’s new casino in Springfield.
MMCT Venture LLC, a joint venture formed by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, said Monday that they will name their new casino in East Windsor “Tribal Winds.” Officials plan to tell the committee about their plans for the development, which has been stalled by the U.S. Interior Department’s failure to immediately approve amendments to the tribal gaming agreements.
Some lawmakers are looking to make sure the casino can be built without federal approval, while others think it’s time to eliminate the tribes’ exclusivity over gaming in Connecticut. It’s unclear which side will prevail in what’s expected to be another legislative battle.
“Building on the iconic brands of our two flagship properties, Tribal Winds will be a world-class gaming and entertainment facility that combines our shared past with the proud local character of East Windsor,” Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chairman Rodney Butler said Monday. “This shovel-ready facility will create jobs and bring in new revenue for the state the minute we break ground.”
Tribal Winds is expected to support 5,000 jobs from the start of construction through the grand opening, with at least 2,000 jobs for the building trades during construction and 2,000 permanent jobs at the facility once it’s operational.
MGM Resorts International has been lobbying Connecticut to open the bidding process for gaming facilities. Currently, the two tribes have exclusive gaming rights. The Las Vegas-based company wants to build a casino in Bridgeport and compete for more of the New York market. It already owns the Empire City Casino in Yonkers.
“It is time now for Connecticut to move beyond the back-and-forth of the past few years and establish an open, competitive bidding process for a commercial casino,” MGM said in a statement. “Let all qualified developers — including the Tribes — respond, and let the State decide which proposal is best. The vast majority of Connecticut residents support that approach. They’re right.”
Meanwhile, the tribes have presented themselves as a sure bet.
The Foxwoods Resorts Casino and Mohegan Sun have brought the state $7.5 billion over the past 25 years. The state gets 25 percent of gross slot revenue from the two tribal casinos.
Connecticut’s take over the last year was around $263 million. However, based on the competition from MGM Springfield since it opened last summer, the number was expected to drop to $203 million. The latest estimates have it increasing to $248 million.
That revenue, according to the tribes, would disappear if the state opened the bidding process to a commercial entity.
The Public Safety and Security Committee will hear testimony from tribal officials at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Legislative Office Building in room 1D.