Mohegan is trying to be the competition they want CT to fear

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A concept image of a resort proposed for Revere, MA, from the Mohegan Sun Massachusetts website.

If the Mohegan Tribe has their way, a satellite casino in East Windsor will not be the only new casino they would build in the region. As the Mohegan Sun Massachusetts (yes, Massachusetts) website currently points out, “Mohegan Sun Massachusetts is prepared to break ground immediately.”

Throughout the no-bid, non-competitive process in Connecticut, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes have steadfastly refused to engage in a competitive process, to Connecticut’s detriment.  Why?  The Mohegan tribe continues to compete in Massachusetts, as it has elsewhere, for a commercial casino license outside tribal land.

Connecticut legislators need to look not only at Springfield, but at what else is brewing in Massachusetts.  The facts on the ground – and in the courts – suggest that Connecticut does its residents and taxpayers a disservice by handing an exclusive commercial casino license to a monopoly more interested in their own bottom line than what’s best for Connecticut.

Even as they seek tax breaks and refuse to participate in a referendum in Connecticut, the Mohegan Tribe participated in a competitive requests-for-proposal process in 2014 in Massachusetts.  They were not selected.

East Windsor, it turns out, may only be the ultimate side deal, as the Mohegan Tribe pursues a Massachusetts venue.

More money, more jobs in Massachusetts

The Tribe is still fighting hard to prevail in Massachusetts. The MMCT plan for East Windsor pales in comparison – fewer jobs and less financial support than they’ve offered in Massachusetts.

Everyone in Connecticut comes up a loser:  businesses and community organizations receive less, public protection and infrastructure receive less. Massachusetts would be given an $85 million licensing fee up front, while Connecticut gets nothing but a “loan” against future payments.

In fact, Mohegan resources have already been directed to Massachusetts, with much more promised should they prevail.

Mohegan Sun Massachusetts will employ nearly 3,200 permanent employees,” “hiring 75 percent of its workforce from communities located within a 15-mile radius of Revere.”  The satellite casino in East Windsor, MMCT promises, would bring 1,700 jobs, and they “will use reasonable efforts” to achieve 15 percent in a 25-mile radius.”

The Mohegan Massachusetts website isn’t shy about where the casino would draw its visitors, highlighting not only “area residents” but “out-of-state guests” that will ”drive increased visitation and higher revenue for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

Massachusetts towns offered better deal

How much would the Mohegan Tribe pay local communities in Massachusetts?  Their proposal, outlined in detail on the Mohegan Massachusetts website, spells it out:

“In Revere alone this includes $33 million in pre-opening payments, $25 million annually guaranteed in the first three years, $28 million in years 4 to 6, and $40 million or more after that based on resort revenue. To date Mohegan Sun has entered into surrounding community agreements with 11 of the 12 designated surrounding communities including: Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Salem, Saugus, Somerville and Winthrop. These surrounding community agreements will provide upwards of $35 million in annual payments across these eleven towns and more than $37 million in upfront payments.”

It’s no wonder that the towns surrounding East Windsor are wondering, why not us?

That’s not all.  The plan in Massachusetts, still actively being advocated in Massachusetts by the Mohegan tribe, includes “$2 million for the renovation of the Harry Della Russo stadium, $1 million for the construction of a new youth center, $1 million annually for Revere schools, $2 million annually for police and fire, and more than $45 million for transportation and infrastructure improvements for local roadways and intersections.”

Beyond that, the plan includes “$10 million a year in purchases from Revere businesses and hundreds of thousands of dollars annually dedicated to small business development” and work is “already” underway with local Massachusetts community colleges to develop “curriculum and worker-training programs.”

The real competition

The money has already begun pouring into Massachusetts: “Since 2009, Mohegan Sun has contributed more than $867,000 to Massachusetts entities, including more than $125,000 to the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling,” the website proudly proclaims.

“Mohegan Sun Massachusetts intends to continue the track record of charitable giving,” the website continues, “beginning with a commitment of $50,000 toward athletic programs in Revere and a similar pledge of $50,000 to continue the Citi Performing Arts Center’s community outreach program.”

Understandably, residents, local businesses, organizations and institutions in East Windsor and surrounding communities are wondering, “why not us?”  Because the Tribe keeps telling East Windsor that they must be allowed to fight the competition.  They simply haven’t been honest that the competition is them.

Uri Clinton is Senior Vice President and Legal Counsel, MGM Resorts International.

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