MGM plans to build a casino in Bridgeport

MGM Resorts International and The RCI Group announced Monday a formal agreement to build MGM Bridgeport, a world-class resort casino at Steelpointe Harbor, not far from the site of Bass Pro Shop.

According to the developers, the impact would include:

  • More than 7,000 new jobs in the Bridgeport area;
  • $50 million in license fees paid to Connecticut in fiscal year 2018;
  • $8 million in annual payments to Bridgeport
  • $4.5 million in annual payments to surrounding communities
  • More than $600 million in new private investment; 100% privately financed construction  
  • $430 Million in new labor income

MGM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James Murren, a Bridgeport native, said MGM Bridgeport can be “a major economic force, a top-tier entertainment resort, and an essential contributor to this community,” adding that “this project can help to turn the economic tide of this state.  We just need the political commitment to make it happen.”

Officials noted that the casino would be New York-facing, providing access to the New York City market of 8.5 million people, as well as Fairfield and Westchester counties.  MGM Bridgeport would include 2,000 slot machines, 160 table games, a 700-seat theater, 300-room hotel, retail and dining options, in an attractive, scenic location, creating a new tourism destination for Connecticut.

They also cited data indicating that tribal casino payments to Connecticut have been steadily declining for years, and projections indicate will continue to drop.  By 2020, it is anticipated that payments will be have declined 59% since 2007. MGM Bridgeport officials say the Bridgeport casino is expected to reverse the downward trend in annual casino payments to the state.

“The focus is rightly on the thousands of jobs that will be created, on the economic impact that will be felt by families, by the community, and by residents all across this state,” said Robert W. Christoph Sr., chairman of The RCI Group, developer of Steelpointe Harbor. “That impact should not be underestimated, and cannot be overstated.  What we have developed with MGM is, in so many ways, a blueprint for progress for Bridgeport and for Connecticut.”

“The last time someone came in with a promise of 7,000 good paying jobs, which included jobs for the residents of Bridgeport, was never. We’d be crazy not to pass this deal,” said Bob Proto, vice president of Unite Here International, who joined officials at the announcement.  

The state legislature would need to take action in order for the plans to proceed. Officials of both companies said they intend to work diligently to gain the necessary approval, stressing the thousands of jobs that could help to reduce unemployment, and the economic development impact that would help families and businesses in the region and across the state. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor released last week indicates that in August, the state lost 3,900 jobs, after a job loss of 1,100 jobs in July.

“For anyone interested in stabilizing Connecticut’s finances, strengthening its largest city, creating jobs and economic expansion,” MGM Bridgeport is “the right development at the right time in the right place,” Murren said.

Officials urged the state legislature to approve a two-step process, as was accomplished effectively in Maryland recently, to ensure the state’s tribal casino payments would continue until MGM Bridgeport opens its doors, assuring no gap in casino payments to the state.  

The plans also call for establishment of a workforce development and training center, to be located in New Haven, extending the impact of the facility in offering employment opportunities.

“We look forward to securing the required approvals so that this critical private investment of over a half billion dollars may proceed without delay,” Christoph Sr. said. Officials asked for public support, “so that these plans can move off the printed page and the website, to cranes maneuvering in the air and concrete being poured into foundations on the ground.”