Tribal leaders answer casino questions in front of packed East Windsor crowd

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EAST WINDSOR -- Tribal leaders from the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes held their first of two "community conversations" on Tuesday night in East Windsor.

The tribes have narrowed down their potential locations for a third casino in Connecticut to East Windsor and Windsor Locks.

East Windsor residents packed the town's middle school auditorium with mixed reaction to the casino proposal and a lot of questions for the tribal leaders.

The proposed location is the old Showcase Cinemas property off of I-91. Tribal leaders said its visibility is high selling point and a reason to invest in East Windsor.

"You're driving on Interstate 91 and you look to the right, there's that Showcase Cinemas that for so long has not been developed and now there's potential to make that thing everything that it could be," said Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council.

Residents raised concerns and asked questions about negative factors such as traffic, crime, and noise.

East Windsor's police chief said they have conducted their own study of a potential casino's impact and they would be ready to handle it.

Tribal leaders added studies show crime rates have actually gone down in areas where they've built casinos.

Brown told reporters, "When we develop a casino in a community we stay very cognizant of the demands that we place on the public services of the community and we come to arrangements that are mutually beneficial for both."

Others in the room, including a large representation of union members, spoke in favor of the casino due to the increased tax revenue and jobs.

Tribal leaders predict the casino would create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the area. They also predict it could bring in almost $80 million in tax revenue to the state and between $4.5 million and $6 million in tax revenue to East WIndsor.

The tribes are looking to make a decision soon, so they can potentially open this casino around the same time as the MGM Casino opens in Springfield.

Leaders say they want to choose a town that wants them there.

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chairman Rodney Butler said, "That's what matters most to us to make sure that this is the right fit for the community."

The second community conversation is scheduled for Thursday, January 26 at 7pm at Windsor Locks High School.