Gaming expansion bill advances; Bridgeport casino comes closer to reality

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BRIDGEPORT -

A key legislative committee has approved plans to create online lottery games, allow sports betting and accept private bids on a new casino in Bridgeport.

The Public Safety Committee voted to advance the three measures.

MGM is promising a resort and hotel on Bridgeport’s waterfront and the hiring of at least 7,000 workers. Currently, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are the only casinos allowed in Connecticut.

Today's committee vote would allow MGM to bid on a new casino license.

MORE: Tense moments as Bridgeport officials make case for MGM casino 

The deal could be very lucrative for Bridgeport. Casino bidders would have to promise the city at least $8 million a year and pledge to hire at least 2,000 workers. The state would get 25 percent of all money from table games and 10 percent of all slot revenues.

But the move is risky. Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun already pay the state $200 million and are threatening to stop making those payments – saying that an MGM bid would break its exclusive deal with the state.

That loss is too big a gamble for some lawmakers.

"There is a lot more work that need to be done," says state Sen. Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield). "We need the executive branch to offer guidance and perspective on this as well."

Gov. Lamont has been negotiating with Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun behind the scenes in order for the deal to work.

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