The partnership between the state’s two federally-recognized Indian tribes said it’s just days away from revealing where it would like to build the state’s planned third casino. East Windsor and Windsor Locks are the two towns still in the running.
But a legislative forum Thursday heard lots of push back on whether the tribes should even be allowed to move ahead with the project.
Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, told lawmakers the opening of an MGM facility in Springfield will be just the latest assault on Connecticut jobs, unless a third casino is built.
"The root question has not changed since when we began this," he said. "Do we want to do nothing as a state? Do we want to stand still and do nothing with history as our guide -- that when we don't compete toe-to-toe in this industry, Connecticut loses jobs?"
But MGM, which has sued unsuccessfully for the right to bid on a third Connecticut casino, said the state would do much better financially to open up the process and allow outside bidders.
General counsel Uri Clinton told the lawmakers the tribes are presenting a false choice.
"So the choice was either: do something that we want you to do, or do nothing," he said. "I actually say that the choice is different. How does Connecticut -- if it decides to have commercial gaming -- how does it maximize tax revenue? How does it maximize job creation? How does it maximize capital investment?"
MGM has said if it was allowed to bid, it would offer a resort casino in the southwest of the state, pulling customers from New York.
The planned third casino would yield a greater portion of its revenues to the state, under the agreement currently made with the legislature. The facility will give 25 percent of all of its gaming revenues to Connecticut. Under the compact governing Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, those casinos give 25 percent of slots revenues only.
The tribal partnership has said that if the state chooses to open up the bidding to other commercial entities, it will consider the compact violated, and will stop any payments to the state from its flagship sites.
But some lawmakers said they believe Connecticut has been leaving money on the table, compared to the deals Massachusetts has struck with planned casinos there.