Towns vie for northern Connecticut casino

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HARTFORD–For now, a new casino north of Hartford is still just a possibility, but that hasn’t stopped several towns from showing interest and some signs of competition.

“The property owners in Enfield are attempting to assemble a proposal that they believe is the winning one,” said Bill Lee, the deputy mayor of Enfield.

Towns are vying to boost their local economies, while keeping gamblers away from the MGM Casino going up in nearby Springfield, Mass.

On Wednesday morning, East Hartford’s Chamber of Commerce hosted leaders from the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to get more information about a potential casino.

Last session, the state legislature passed a bill that creates a process to do this. The governor hasn’t signed it yet, but towns like Enfield, East Hartford and East Windsor can’t wait any longer to find out more.

“There’s a lot of conversation out there no one really truly knows what’s going to happen,” said East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc.

Lee said, “It was important for the economic development team in Enfield to get it kind of from the horse’s mouth. What is expected from the communities?”

Tribal leaders say what’s expected is pretty simple: “The doors are open and that it’s properly positioned. Those are the main elements really of an effective RFP that will convince the state that this is the right thing,” said Kevin Brown, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.

The General Manager of Enfield Square, Marty Pelosi, attended the event, hoping his mall may someday be the location of this casino. But he says any location in Enfield will help the entire community.

“It’s certainly been proven that a lot of what they do, the casinos, really improves and promotes the moral of the town that they’re in,” said Pelosi.