East Windsor Project Can Continue Thanks to Recent House Vote

by Kyle Miller

Ct SealA recent House vote helps tribes of Connecticut move closer to creating third casino.

In the state of Connecticut, there are currently two casinos; Foxwoods Resort and the Mohegan Sun. both casinos are tribal owned and operated with the two tribes trying to work together for some time to create a third casino for the state, this time a commercial option not on tribal lands. The Mashantucket Pequots operate the Foxwoods Resort while the Mohegans operate the Mohegan Sun.

The two tribes created a joint venture a while back known as the MMCT venture. The goal is to create a new casino off tribal lands that will benefit both tribes as well as the state. Just recently, the House of Representatives voted in approval for amended compacts and a memorandum of understanding which will see the project move forward.

Positive Movement

The two tribes have been fighting for some time to see their project come to life. The state and both federally recognized tribes came to a memorandum of understanding as well as amended compacts that they can all agree on. The House of Representatives voted in approval of these agreements, 118 to 32 earlier this week.

The revised agreements were signed by Governor Dannel Malloy along with leaders of the tribes and will make sure that the East Windsor casino and entertainment facility will not be in violation of the existing revenue-sharing agreements between the state and tribe. The compacts now move on to the Senate as well as the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to be hopefully approved.

New Casino Plans

The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes would like to convert an old East Windsor movie theater complex into a casino with a price tag set of $300 million. The goal is to help the state of Connecticut fight the incoming casino being constructed in Massachusetts, keeping entertainment dollars in the state as well as jobs.

MGM Springfield is currently under construction in Massachusetts just over the border from Connecticut. The casino will open next year. MGM actually tried to stop the MMCT Venture from starting construction on the casino and keep the money moving to their new venue. However, a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals located in Manhattan decided to uphold an earlier decision by a judge in the state that dismissed the lawsuit of MGM stating that the casino could not sue over a law from 2015 which allowed the tribes to find a town to host a new casino.

Back in June, the tribes were able to see positive progress when Public Act 17-89 was signed by Malloy. This act authorizes an entertainment and casino gaming facility to operate in East Windsor. Based on the language of the legislation, the state will be earning an initial payment of $1 million from MMCT Venture along with 25% of gross gaming revenues from video style gaming plus an additional 25% from all other games gross gaming revenues.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection will now have oversight into the development as well as be in charge of licensing and regulation. The department will also be in charge of any casino development that may occur in the future for the state. Any cost of regulatory oversight will reportedly be paid by MMCT.

So now the tribes hope to see even more approvals given so they can surpass the remaining hurdles. It may be soon that we hear that MMCT can go ahead and the casino venue will be in the construction stages.