Stratford, Trumbull chambers support competitive casino process

The Stratford and Trumbull chambers of commerce are among the latest entities supporting a legislative proposal to establish a competitive process for a commercial casino license in Connecticut.

State officials are considering a proposed $675 million resort casino being proposed for Bridgeport’s Steelpointe Harbor by MGM Resorts International.

The Bridgeport Regional Business Council, of which both Stratford and Trumbull chambers are affiliates, has also endorsed the legislation, as has the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce, also a BRBC affiliate. The bill is awaiting a vote by the state House of Representatives.  The legislature adjourns on May 9.

“A project of this magnitude will definitely help our community,” Stratford Chamber Board Chairman Chris Pia said, adding that the Chamber opted to take a position in support of House Bill 5305, the Competitive Process bill because “it is our fiscal responsibility to vote on proposals that could improve our business community.”

The legislative proposal calls for a request-for-proposal process, to be run by the state Department of Consumer Protection and the state Department of Economic and Community Development, for a commercial casino license that would include $50 million nonrefundable license fee due before construction even beings, 25% of annual gross gaming revenue on both slots and table games, and annual payments of $8 million to Bridgeport and $4.5 million to surrounding communities.

The plan announced by MGM last fall suggests that 7,000 jobs would result if the proposal receives state approval.  Under the bill, the legislature would need to approve a recommendation by the state agency Commissioners before a project could move forward.

“There are very few projects that have a huge economic impact on entire region as the potential gaming opportunity that would be made available with the passing of HB 5305” said Jeff Bishop, executive director of the Trumbull Chamber of Commerce. “After listening to the positive outcomes gaming has provided to other urban centers, and their outlying areas, the Trumbull Chamber of Commerce wanted to lend their support and back this important bill, with the economic development that would result from its passing.”

“The Legislature owes it to its citizenry to make the best deal possible for its taxpayers.  That deal is an open competition for gaming that can bring in the most revenue and quite frankly that’s with a resort that can tap the huge New York market,” said Frank Borres president of the American View Productions and chairman of the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce.

Bridgeport Chamber Executive Director Karen DelVecchio, testified recently at the State Capitol in support of the bill, stating that it “will enable any interested parties to be on a level playing field and will enable the state of Connecticut to fairly evaluate additional casinos based on achieving the optimal benefit to all involved.”

“When someone knocks on our door, with $675 million in hand intent on investing in our community, it would be short-sighted and counterproductive to turn them away without a second thought,” Mickey Herbert, president and CEO of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council told legislators at a public hearing last month.

Pia added that the Stratford Chamber Board voted unanimously to support the competitive process plan, and the “economic growth” that could result from a casino in Bridgeport.  He said that if the Bridgeport casino were to come to fruition, it “would have a long reach and impact us locally, helping our local business community and our grand list.”