Lawmakers hear comment on bill to open up bidding for third CT casino

HARTFORD -- Lawmakers heard public comment on a proposal that could lead to someone else developing a new Connecticut casino besides the federally recognized tribes.

The General Assembly's Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee heard testimony Monday on proposed legislation requiring state agencies to develop and issue a request for proposals for a business or tribe to develop, manage, operate and maintain a possible casino.

Among other things, bidders to the RFP would have to prove they can pay a nonrefundable $50 million state licensing fee and agree to make a total investment of not less than $500 million.

"Once they leave the reservation that opens it up to anybody seeking a gaming facility," said Chief Richard Velky of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. "Otherwise the state of CT is supporting a monopoly."

Legislators are still considering a dueling bill that would allow the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to build a satellite casino in East Windsor to compete with MGM Springfield, scheduled to open next year.

"From our standpoint our win is whether or not we can find an economically feasible path to tapping into the New York market which by the way also helps the citizens of CT and that's a win win," said Uri Clinton of MGM Resorts International.

MMCT Ventures, the organization from the combined efforts of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, says an RFP would be problematic for the state because it could force a re-negotiation of the current compact between the Mashantucket Pequot, Mohegan Tribes, and the state.

"Should you go the competitive bid route and the tribes not win that competitve bid then the state will find itself in an even worse situation," said Clyde Barrow, a consultant with MMCT.