WNPR

MGM's Massachusetts Dealings Could Affect Connecticut Tribes' East Windsor Casino

Apr 23, 2018

If the tribes that make up the Mashantucket Mohegan Connecticut Venture are considering a potential play for the license to operate a casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, East Windsor First Selectman Bob Maynard said they haven’t indicated anything about it to him.

“Right now, we have good communications and I’m not really worried about it--haven’t really reached out to them yet. I’m not that concerned,” Maynard said.

Some dominoes would have to fall in order for the Springfield casino--which is owned right now by MGM Resorts International and scheduled to be open in September--to be run by someone else.  But it’s not impossible.

The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources last week saying that MGM Resorts International is in talks to take over the building of a casino in Boston from Wynn Resorts. The Hartford Courant reported Sunday that Connecticut’s two tribes that operate Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun could have interest in the MGM’s Springfield casino if it has to abandon that project.

Massachusetts state law requires that any casino operator can only hold one license in the state.

The tribes formed MMCT to build Connecticut’s third casino in East Windsor to compete with the Springfield facility.

Maynard acknowledged that the prospect of the Springfield casino license coming back on the table would be a game-changer because MMCT might not need his town anymore. But he said East Windsor will be okay even if it all goes away.

“It would be nice to have a casino here in East Windsor,” Maynard told Connecticut Public Radio. “But East Windsor is a strong town and it can do very well without the casino--that was kind of a bonus.”

Maynard believes that the tribes need the East Windsor project because of the gaming revenue that the tribes could lose out on because there’s a casino in Springfield. Plus, he said with that being open just over the border, the state of Connecticut could watch as Massachusetts eats up taxes on winnings from Connecticut players.

Andrew Doba, MMCT’s spokesman, blasted the press speculation, saying that anything attaching the Connecticut tribes to the Springfield casino is "rumor mill trash."

“Our concern has been and will continue to be to preserve Connecticut jobs and revenue," Doba said.

Right now, construction of the East Windsor casino has faced a major obstacle because the United States Department of the Interior has refused to approve or disapprove changes to the gaming compact the tribes have with the state of Connecticut. And construction cannot begin without this project being entered into the federal register.

Maynard said demolition is already complete on the project that’s slated for an out-of-use cinema complex off I-91. If it should stay on track, he expects construction to begin closer to the fall.

MMCT and the state of Connecticut are suing the Department of Interior to get the official “yay” or “nay.”

The Inspector General’s office will investigate how the Department of the Interior handled the venture’s project in East Windsor. Doba said that if it finds anything wrong, that could also compel the department to act.