The contentious battle between Connecticut tribes and MGM Resorts is heating up. Shortly after workers from the two tribal-owned Connecticut casinos met with lawmakers last week, the tribes unveiled a new video criticizing MGM as a business.
Attack ad features MGM executives
The 30-second ad takes clips of MGM executives speaking about MGM Springfield in Massachusetts. The first clip features MGM CEO James Murren saying “I just want their money to come here.” Murren is presumably discussing the MGM Springfield project, which tribes argue could cost up to 9,000 CT casino jobs.
The second clip features MGM Resorts President Bill Hornbuckle. He says “We are ideally positioned to go into Hartford and attack.”
Hornbuckle’s comment comes from a 2015 Bloomberg News interview. He is referencing the company’s hard stance against a third tribal-owned casino planned for East Windsor, CT. The proposed CT property is just 22 miles from the MGM Sprinfield site.
As part of the legal battle, MGM even hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to help with its case. The crux of its argument is that the state does not have the authority to give the tribes a statewide casino monopoly.
In the Bloomberg interview, Hornbuckle seems to be referencing MGM’s position to contest the proposed casino legally and financially. In the ad, Hornbuckle’s voice speaks over a map illustrating Springfield’s proximity to CT casinos Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. It appears the ad is trying to suggest MGM is attacking the industry, not the East Windsor proposal.
The general message of the ad is MGM does not have Connecticut’s best interests in mind. As a result, the company should not get a chance to bid on a possible new casino in the state.
The title of the video is simply “Listen”. Here it is in its entirety:
MGM says MMCT released ad because they are “losing”
The ad is on the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan Tribes (MMCT) website. Some local outlets also picked up the video as a news story.
MGM immediately fired back. MGM legal counsel Uri Clinton told the Hartford Courant:
“What MMCT did this evening is what a campaign does when it is losing, it attacks. And while it is kind of sad to see, it is also understandable why they are losing.”
Clinton has some evidence to support the idea the tribes are losing ground. Even if MGM does not capture the Connecticut contract, state officials are taking meetings with other casino companies, like Caesars Entertainment and Pinnacle. The state appears open to listening to other offers.
MMCT does have East Windsor’s support to build the casino. The local government and MMCT are working on a casino agreement. The agreement is already drawing criticism from MGM, which is questioning the fairness of five years of fixed property tax rates.
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