MGM promotes leading presence in Connecticut to Yonkers, N.Y., post

January 2, 2019 GMT

An MGM Resorts International executive, who’s become a familiar presence at state legislative hearings in Hartford in recent years, has been named president and chief operating officer of Empire City Casino, the Yonkers, N.Y., property MGM Resorts has agreed to buy.

Uri Clinton’s appointment, announced in December, is scheduled to coincide with MGM’s closing on the $850 million deal, which reportedly could occur as soon as Thursday.

Clinton will continue to represent MGM Resorts’ interests in Connecticut.

“Uri’s proven leadership and wide range of skills have been instrumental in the Company’s development efforts in New York and Connecticut, and he will continue to build on those successes with this new role,” Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts president, said in a statement. “Empire City is already known for its world-class integrated gaming, racing and dining experience, and we are thrilled to welcome Empire City to the MGM Resorts family. We look forward to further solidifying MGM Resorts’ presence as the entertainment leader on the East Coast and in the New York City region.”

As MGM Resorts’ senior vice president and legal counsel since 2016, Clinton has lobbied Connecticut lawmakers to establish a competitive-bidding process for additional casinos in the state. MGM Resorts has said it would participate in such a process in hopes of developing a casino on the Bridgeport waterfront.

Advocates of the third Connecticut casino the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes have been authorized to jointly build in East Windsor have so far managed to thwart the competitive-bidding effort.

Lawmakers, however, could revisit the issue in the upcoming legislative session that begins next week.

MGM Resorts’ agreement in May to acquire Empire City prompted some to question the Las Vegas-based operator’s commitment to Connecticut. Empire City, including Yonkers Raceway, offers slot machines as well as horse racing and could be eligible to introduce table games in the not-too-distant future.

“MGM, led by Mr. Clinton, spent millions of dollars trying to convince legislators they were interested in building a casino in Connecticut and all the while they were in the process of acquiring this property in Yonkers. That Mr. Clinton is going to run it is fitting and speaks volumes about how serious people should take their claims going forward,” said Andrew Doba, a spokesman for the Mashantucket-Mohegan partnership.

In August, MGM Resorts opened Massachusetts’ first full-scale casino in Springfield, where it poses a competitive threat to the tribes’ existing casinos in southeastern Connecticut.

Attempts to reach Clinton were unsuccessful.