MGM's 'face' in Connecticut resigns from New York casino post

An MGM Resorts International gaming executive who’s been lobbying Connecticut lawmakers for years is no longer president of the company’s Yonkers, N.Y., casino, an MGM spokeswoman confirmed Monday.

Uri Clinton resigned as president and chief operating officer of Empire City Casino, the spokeswoman, Debra DeShong, wrote in an email.

“However, he continues to support our development efforts as a consultant,” DeShong wrote, providing no details about the timing or circumstances of Clinton’s resignation.

Clinton has long represented MGM Resorts at the state Capitol in Hartford, urging passage of bills calling for competitive bidding among casino operators and touting Bridgeport as the best location for another casino in the state. That put him at odds with the casino-owning Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, who won state approval for a commercial casino in East Windsor that has yet to take shape.

State Rep. Joe Verrengia, D-West Hartford, co-chairman of the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee, reacted to word of the change in Clinton’s relationship with MGM Resorts.

"I'm surprised, caught off guard," Verrengia said. "He's been the face of MGM in Connecticut since Day One. There's plenty of unfinished business to deal with in the upcoming session (of the legislature), and I'm sure MGM will continue to be part of that discussion."

"The question now is with who?" Verrengia said.

MGM Resorts named Clinton president and COO of Empire City about a year ago, shortly before closing on its $850 million purchase of the property, which includes Yonkers Raceway. Since then, Clinton has continued to lobby on behalf of MGM’s development interests in Connecticut and New York. MGM has urged the New York legislature to allow Empire City to introduce table games prior to the scheduled 2023 lifting of a moratorium on new casinos in New York.

In Connecticut, MGM Resorts has filed federal lawsuits in an effort to block the tribes’ East Windsor project, which could pose a competitive threat to MGM Springfield, the western Massachusetts resort casino the company opened in 2018.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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