State senate passes measure approving casino proposal

HARTFORD -- The state Senate took a big step on Wednesday in expanding gambling, approving a new satellite casino to be built by two Native American tribes in East Windsor.

The measure passed 24 to 12 after debate, and still requires approval by the state House of Representatives and Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy. Malloy said this bill is the only casino measure he would consider signing.

The bill would allow for a ‘satellite’ casino to be built in East Windsor and operated jointly by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes. Supporters of the bill said it would create more than 1,200 permanent jobs, while opponents say the state is risking a legal problem by granting a monopoly on gambling to Native American tribes on non-tribal land.

The movement for a third Connecticut casino began after MGM International announced the building of a nearly $1 billion casino and entertainment complex in Springfield, MA.

The Senate version of the East Windsor casino bill remains uncertain. Wednesday afternoon, House Democratic leaders announced the Senate version of the bill would not be able to pass in its current form and revisions would be necessary.

Statements from tribal chairs of both the Mohegan tribe council, and Mashantucket Pequot tribe council expressed that they were extremely pleased with the vote. Since the first two casinos in Connecticut have opened, the tribes said they have collectively contributed more than $7 billion to the state.

The legislative session ends June 7th.

MGM Resorts International released the following statement Wednesday morning:

“The Senate vote is not the final word on casino expansion in Connecticut. However, it is disappointing that the State Senate took a vote that denies the State of Connecticut the opportunity to create thousands of new jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue for the State.  Unfortunately, the Senate's bill doesn’t contain a licensing fee for the state, which means that it leaves as much as $100 million on the table in the middle of a real budget crisis.  Additionally, it doesn’t provide for the real cost associated with infrastructure improvements required to support the proposed casino.  In short, it shortchanges the Town of East Windsor, the surrounding communities and the state of Connecticut.

The good news is that the House of Representatives still has the opportunity to fix all of this.  HB 7239 would allow the state to put in place an open competitive process – something 71% of the people support – that would allow Connecticut to take advantage of this unique opportunity.  Hundreds of millions of dollars in license fees, incremental tax revenue, and thousands of new, good paying jobs.  That’s what the State Senate left on the table tonight.  If the Senate bill were to ultimately become law, numerous national gaming operators - including MGM - would be precluded from offering a competitive bid for consideration. To shut down that opportunity would seem to be a disservice to Connecticut’s hardworking taxpayers.”