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Its Newest Casino Is 50 Miles Away, But MGM Still Wants Bridgeport

MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas

One of the largest casino companies in the country continued to expand its interests on the East Coast this week. Plus it promised there’s much more to come. Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International announced on May 29 it has entered into an agreement to acquire Empire City Casino in the New York City inner suburb of Yonkers.

MGM will reportedly pay $850 million for the Yonkers racino, a property which is everything but a full-fledged casino. It features 120,000 square feet of gaming space with more than more than 5,300 video lottery terminals, including popular slot titles and various electronic table games like Roulette, Craps, and Blackjack.

Empire City Casino also hosts live and simulcast harness racing at the historic Yonkers Raceway. Plus, there is a wide variety of food, drink, and entertainment options on site, all just minutes from New York City.

The deal will likely close in the first quarter of 2019. Although, it is still subject to regulatory approvals and various closing conditions.

MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said the acquisition solidifies the company’s presence on the East Coast.

“We are excited to announce the addition of Empire City to the MGM Resorts portfolio. This acquisition represents an excellent opportunity to further solidify our presence on the East Coast, and in particular, expand our reach into the high-density New York City region.”

MGM on the East Coast

MGM’s presence on the East Coast has been on the rise over the past few years.

In 2016, the company bought out Boyd Gaming’s 50 percent interest in Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, giving it full ownership of the Atlantic City, New Jersey casino.

In December 2016, it also opened the $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor casino resort in Maryland, just outside Washington D.C. MGM National Harbor features a 23-story hotel and 135,000 square foot casino.

MGM will also open Massachusetts’ second commercial casino operation this summer. The $950 million MGM Springfield is scheduled to open in Springfield on August 24. It will feature a 250-room hotel and 125,000 square feet of gaming space. The casino will include 3,000 slot machines, 100 gaming tables, a poker room, and high-limit VIP gambling area. Plus, MGM Springfield will also include close to 55,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

The MGM Bridgeport saga continues

In the meantime, MGM also remains committed to the idea of building a casino resort in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Despite the fact, the proposed location of the facility is less than 50 miles from Empire City Casino.

MGM revealed its plans to build a $675 million casino resort in Bridgeport in September last year. Plans include a 300-room hotel and a casino with 2,000 slot machines and 160 table games. The facility is also expected to include a 700-seat theater and various retail stores and restaurants.

In early May, the Connecticut House approved legislation allowing for the submission of new commercial casino proposals. The Connecticut Senate has yet to even debate the legislation, and isn’t likely to do so until 2019.

Previously, only tribal casinos have been proposed, approved, and opened in Connecticut. This includes the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe’s Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard and the Mohegan Tribe’s Mohegan Sun in Uncasville. Plus, a third proposed satellite casino in East Windsor, jointly owned by the two tribes. The project got the thumbs up by state lawmakers, but still awaiting federal approval.

The $300 million satellite casino is planned for an area only 12 miles south of Springfield. The Tribe’s hope is revenues will help offset the loss of business expected when MGM Springfield opens across state lines.

Since its approval by state lawmakers, MGM has been lobbying hard for the right to propose new commercial casino plans. It’s also hoping to negotiate a better revenue-sharing agreement than the one the state has with the tribes.

MGM confirm its commitment to Connecticut

After announcing the agreement to acquire Empire City Casino, MGM issued a statement confirming its commitment to Bridgeport:

“While we remain hopeful that Connecticut will build on this year’s legislative progress and ultimately authorize a competitive process for a commercial casino license, the state’s delay will not deter us from executing our company’s comprehensive growth strategy. For years, MGM Resorts has been unwavering in its interest in Connecticut, and in Bridgeport in particular, but thus far Connecticut has rejected all attempts to have an open competitive process for a commercial casino license.

“We continue to believe that with its proximity to the New York City (metropolitan area) and its excellent existing infrastructure, Bridgeport provides substantial opportunity to unlock real value for not only a casino developer, but for the people of Connecticut and the state itself. Just as other jurisdictions in the northeastern region of the United States have modernized their gaming laws to take advantage of shifting market dynamics, we renew our call on Connecticut to do the same.”

Martin Derbyshire

About

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years experience in the world of poker and gambling. He contributes to a number of publications dealing with the US regulated online gambling market. He has traveled the globe working as an editor, producer, and writer as well as interviewing major players in the gaming world.