A statewide survey commissioned in part by MGM Resorts International shows that 71pc of likely Connecticut voters support legislation that would establish a competitive bid process for a third casino, which could rule out East Windsor and provide an opportunity for MGM to build in Fairfield County.
There are two competing bills working their way through the General Assembly — one to allow the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to build in East Windsor, and the other to open the process to any interested entity.
The latter, which could be called for a vote in the House, would require the chosen developer to contribute at least $8m to its host town, commit to invest at least $300m on a casino, and show the ability to pay a $250m licensing fee.
Applicants, with the exception of the tribes should they apply, would be required to pay a refundable $5m application fee. The legislation also calls for a referendum in the host town. The bill providing for an East Windsor casino does not require a municipal vote.
When asked about which legislation they would support, 72pc of likely voters preferred the competitive bill, with 19pc supporting the East Windsor tribal proposal, which is meant to compete with the MGM casino opening in Springfield.
Additionally, 85pc of likely voters said state law should require a referendum in a host town prior to construction of a casino.
“Likely voters in Connecticut are speaking with one voice, loudly and clearly, for an open, competitive process to select a developer for the state’s first commercial casino,” Uri Clinton, MGM senior vice president and legal counsel, said. “That’s unequivocally the bill they want the legislature to pass.”
Of the $250m licensing fee, the poll shows that 68pc of likely voters support the state receiving at least $85m, in addition to fees provided to the host town. 86pc say the developer should pay for infrastructure upgrades in the area surrounding a casino.