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Connecticut Senate Signs Off On New Casino Bill

Gambling Market Could Get More Crowded In State

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Connecticut casinos have been victim to nine consecutive years of gaming revenue declines, so the state is looking at a way to stop the bleeding.

A third casino for the state of Connecticut was given approval by the state’s Senate on Wednesday, sending the proposal to the House for consideration. The legislation would give the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes the ability to open a jointly-run casino in East Windsor.

The bill passed by a 24-12 vote.

The tribes are planing a $300 million Las Vegas-style facility at a former movie theater, just about 15 miles south of the nearly $1 billion MGM casino coming to Springfield, Massachusetts.

If the casino is built, it would be the first of its kind in Connecticut not on tribal land.

Opponents of the legislation argue that the bill could violate rules to allow for competition, as the tribes would be given the sole right to build a new gambling facility. Nevada-based MGM wants to have the opportunity to pitch a Connecticut casino.

Under the deal, the tribes would pay the state 25 percent of gaming revenue from the East Windsor casino. MGM argues that it’s a bad arrangement for the state and its residents, according to a report from the Hartford Courant.

“The Senate vote is not the final word on casino expansion in Connecticut,” said Uri Clinton, a lawyer for MGM. “Unfortunately, the Senate’s bill doesn’t contain a licensing fee, which means that it leaves as much as $100 million on the table in the middle of a real budget crisis.”

MGM’s Springfield project is eyeing a fall 2018 opening. That casino is planning for 20 poker tables. The tribes haven’t said how big of a poker room there would be at the potential East Windsor casino. There are currently about 140 poker tables in Connecticut.

The talks come at a time when gaming revenue is declining at Connecticut’s two existing casinos—Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. They had their combined gaming revenue fall 7.5 percent between 2013 and 2015 to $1.6 billion, according to Casino City’s 2017 Indian Gaming Industry Report.

 
 
Tags: Connecticut,   MGM,   Mohegan,   Foxwoods,   Tribal Gaming