MGM has mastered the art of the stunt

I would place a hefty bet that we will never see an MGM casino in Connecticut, though we are not likely to see the end of the MGM show here anytime soon.

Of course, MGM is not so interested in Connecticut, just the Connecticut gamblers it hoped to lure over the state line to the fantastic and expensive downtown destination casino resort it is building in the most unlikely of places, Springfield, Mass.

No wonder they have been counting on Connecticut gamblers to come help them make a go of it.

I will give them credit. They keep pulling rabbits out of the hat, trying to stop the third tribal casino, approved by Connecticut lawmakers.

They must be worried about East Windsor, where the Mashantuckets and Mohegans plan on building the casino.

Last week, it was a big fat rabbit, a "groundbreaking" for a Bridgeport casino, launching a new marketing campaign with lots of shiny objects, renderings, job estimates, revenue projections, for a casino that has no hope of ever being made legal.

They even managed to lure some Connecticut politicians, tongues lapping the concrete, to the fake groundbreaking.

Of course the folly of a Bridgeport casino starts with MGM's own arguments against the tribal casino in East Windsor, arguments it has pursued in one lawsuit and expects to use in another.

You can't just award a casino license, willy-nilly, to one entity without some kind of bidding or competition. That was the principal MGM input into the General Assembly's debate about new gambling in Connecticut, one they repeated over and over again, threatening to use it to tie the tribes and the state up in the courts for years.

And now they want Connecticut to grant them a no-bid gaming license, in the same way that they shouted all year long would be unconstitutional.

Vegas hubris, I guess.

I suppose the Bridgeport groundbreaking will become part of the newest lawsuit over East Windsor: You see your honor, they did it for the tribes and wouldn't do it for us.

The list of reasons why there won't be a casino in Bridgeport are endless.

I think most Fairfield Country legislators would welcome a Category 5 hurricane before they would vote for a Bridgeport casino. Their constituents start to tremble at the mention of it, thinking about all the traffic it would bring.

The last time a Bridgeport casino was put in legislation, it crashed in the General Assembly.

Then there is the small matter of the hundreds of millions of dollars in lost gambling revenue from the tribes if the state broke its duopoly gambling agreement with them, probably more than $500 million before a Bridgeport casino could open and start paying its own tax.

How naive would lawmakers need to be to believe that the tribes would continue to pay, once a new casino license was created, until the casino actually opened its doors?

The tribes certainly would take the position that the authorization legislation for Bridgeport would free them from paying, and courts almost certainly would support that.

I suppose MGM could propose making up those payments, but that would mean an investment of more than $1 billion in Bridgeport, maybe not a good idea when you are worried about the $950 million you are spending in Springfield.

MGM also has been resourceful, and I suspect we are going to learn more soon about how the new letter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which appears to cloud approval for the East Windsor casino, ended up being copied to a Nevada lawmaker.

That one may be more rat than rabbit.

MGM, their lawyers, lobbyists and bean counters, have their noses deep into Connecticut politics, and not, I would suggest, because they have any intention of building a casino here.

This is the opinion of David Collins.


Loading comments...
Hide Comments