MGM finances Connecticut casino study

Mar 5, 2016 8:00 AM

A Connecticut study commissioned by MGM Resorts has concluded that a third casino in the state would be better suited for the I-95 corridor in Fairfield County, not the I-91 corridor corridor closer to the Springfield, Mass. casino that MGM is building.

"Locating a casino in southwest Connecticut would generate far greater economic benefits than locating one in north central Connecticut because southwest Connecticut offers a much deeper market," Oxford Economics, an independent global advisory firm, stated in the report.  

Nevada-based MGM is building a $950 million resort casino straddling Springfield's Metro Center and South End neighborhoods. The Connecticut Indian tribes that own Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino have been eyeing Hartford County communities just south of Massachusetts as possible sites for a facility to compete with MGM's nearly billion-dollar project.

The Oxford study determined that a casino built in southwestern Connecticut would generate $545 million more in total economic output for the state than one built in north-central Connecticut. of N

The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes that run Connecticut's two casinos have formed MM4CT Venture, a joint business enterprise, to pursue a Connecticut casino site near MGM Springfield. Locations currently under consideration include Hartford, East Hartford and Windsor Locks, all of which are within spitting distance of Springfield.

MM4CT hopes to dilute the threat of MGM Springfield by building Connecticut's third casino in the greater Hartford area. Tribal leaders aren't surprised by the outcome of the Oxford study.

"It should surprise exactly no one that an MGM-funded study finds that the best place to put a new casino is as far away as possible from MGM Springfield," said Andrew Doba, a spokesman for MM4CT. "Our goal today is the same as it was when we started this process last year – to make sure that Connecticut jobs don't migrate over the border to Massachusetts."

Building a casino along the I-95 corridor between Bridgeport and Greenwich, which is essentially the New York City market, would produce more jobs, revenue and opportunities for economic growth, according to Alan Feldman, an MGM executive vice president. 

"The bottom line question is where does Connecticut get the best deal?" Feldman said in a statement  "The more comprehensive the study, the clearer the answer becomes. It is not in the Hartford region."

The MGM-backed report concluded that a casino in southwestern Connecticut would generate $712 million in gaming revenue, while costing Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun $250 million in lost revenue.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected].