The chief of MGM’s casino development operations did not mention a $675 million waterfront casino proposal for Bridgeport in a recent conference call with investors, while outlining MGM’s gaming development strategy, according to a report in a Las Vegas newspaper.
The Las Vegas Sun reported that MGM Resorts International Chief Executive Jim Murren told investors that with the exception of a potential casino in Japan, the company is largely finished building new resorts.
“...Springfield, Mass, will be the home of our newest property, and our last major development project here in the United States when it opens in September,” Murren was quoted as saying by the Las Vegas Sun. “And that really winds down our development cycle.”
In September, Murren was in Bridgeport to announce plans for a casino complex with 2,000 slot machines, 160 table games, a 700-seat theater, a 300-room hotel, plus retail and restaurant space. The state legislature would have to approve the plans.
Casino gambling in the state is currently limited to the two federal Indian reservations. However, the General Assembly has approved a plan for a third casino in East Windsor that would be jointly operated by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes.
MGM downplayed the report, saying the development cycle that Murren mentioned includes resorts in Springfield and Maryland.
“There are new opportunities for growth that MGM is actively and aggressively pursuing that have not yet earned legislative approval — including Bridgeport,” said Uri Clinton, MGM Resorts senior vice president and legal counsel.
MGM has aggressively opposed the East Windsor plan, arguing that southwestern Connecticut would be a better location for a casino and would produce a more lucrative revenue-sharing agreement with the state than now exists with the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans.
MGM critics argue that the gaming giant’s opposition to East Windsor is simply because Connecticut’s third casino aims to compete with MGM’s Springfield casino and keep gambling dollars in Connecticut.
MMCT Venture, the joint venture of the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans seized quickly on the omission of Bridgeport in Murren’s comments.
“We called it a stunt when it was first announced, and the more we learn, it appears it is true,” Andrew Doba, an MMCT spokesman, said Tuesday. “It is clear MGM is talking out of both sides of its mouth.”
Clinton disputed MMCT’s contention that MGM’s intentions in Bridgeport were not serious.
“MGM is unequivocally committed to advocating for legislation that would authorize development of a Bridgeport casino,” Clinton said. “We look forward to earning legislative approval and stand ready to begin implementing our plans.”
A spokeswoman for the city of Bridgeport did not have an immediate comment Tuesday.
Murren will be in Connecticut Dec. 5 to meet with community leaders in Bridgeport and New Haven on the proposal and be the featured speaker at the Bridgeport Regional Business Council’s annual dinner, Clinton said.
Clinton also took a swipe at MMCT saying the East Windsor plan “is rapidly losing steam” after being unable to get definitive approval for its plans from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
MMCT has said it will begin demolition in East Windsor — the site of a long-abandoned movie theater — by the end of the year.