On February 25, nearly 30 concerned citizens gathered at First Congregational Church of Darien to discuss the impacts of a new casino proposed for the Bridgeport area by MGM Resorts. Also at the meeting were State Representative Terrie Wood, State Senator Bob Duff, Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, and Reverend Dale Rosenberger, senior pastor of First Church.
The gathering was a response to a proposal by MGM to build a $675 million casino in Bridgeport. According to Sen. Duff, the proposal is still in its early stages, but any casino built by MGM would require the state to break a current agreement with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes who run the Foxwood and Mohegan Sun casinos in eastern CT. MGM has spent millions lobbying for legislative changes which would allow a third party to operate a casino in Connecticut.
In his opening comments, Rosenberger outlined 10 opposition points as stated in a document prepared by the Coalition Against Casino Expansion in CT
(CACE). These arguments focus mainly on the costs to communities around casinos and the impact on families and individuals. The arguments for adding a casino focus on revenue for the state and the addition of local jobs, but Rosenberger call this a “seemingly innocuous rally cry” saying the jobs are minimum wage jobs and would not necessarily go to residents of Bridgeport.
Representative Wood agreed, stating that most of the jobs that the state has regained since 2008 have been minimum wage positions. “We need to regain those higher paying jobs,” said Wood.
Michele Mudrick, Legislative Advocate for the CT Conference and Director of CACE, has worked in opposition to any increased casino activity in the state, including fighting a proposal for a casino in the East Windsor
“Gambling hits low-income earners, retirees, the mentally ill, and the unemployed the hardest, populations that are already suffering from economic inequality. Casinos are made for people to lose their money,” wrote Mudrick. “There is no justice in using addictive gambling machines to obtain revenue from these most vulnerable populations.” The CT Conference has passed several resolutions
Rosenberger feels that casinos slowly contribute to the ruin of communities. “There are forms of evil that are obvious, menacing, and scary and we are smart enough to immediately recoil, but there are other forms of evil that more subtly insinuate themselves, and they do so in such a way that they appear to us as good idea and they will slowly lead us to our own ruin.”
When asked what people can do to stop the expansion of casinos in CT, Rosenberger said, “We clear our throats and make our voices heard.”
One opportunity to do that will take place on March 13 at a public hearing by the Public Safety and Security Committee (10:00am, Legislative Office Building Room 2b). Citizens may sign up to speak beginning at 9:00am. Mudrick encourages people to write testimonies in opposition to casino gambling. Information and sample testimonies can be found on the CT Conference website
. Mudrick will submit testimonies for you and suggests they be emailed to her
by Monday at 3pm. (Click here to download at Template for writing testimony specific on the current casino bills HB 5305 and HB 5306.
Any questions about casino expansion or getting involved should be directed to Mudrick