Two Indian tribes have been working to create a third gaming venue in Connecticut, with slot revenues to stop if a non-tribal entity is provided the gaming license.
In Connecticut, talk of a third casino has been ongoing for some tie. Currently in the state, there are two casinos in operation, the Mohegan Sun and the Foxwoods Casino. Both gaming venues are operated by Indian tribes and each tribe have been working together to see a third casino added to the state on non-tribal lands. The Mohegan’s and the Mashantucket Pequot Indians would be working together in a joint venture, with the two currently searching for a site for the third gaming venue.
Lawmakers were approached this week by the tribes, stating that if any other entity is allowed to develop a new casino, then the slot gaming revenues provided by the tribe to the state would cease to be paid. Foxwoods CEO Felix Rappaport and the tribal chairman for the Mohegan’s Kevin Brown, stated that if the next state casino were to be created by an outside entity, then the compact between the tribes and the state would be violated. The $7 billion in slot gaming revenues to be paid in total would be eliminated.
What’s At Stake?
The slot machine revenues of the state has fell into a decline in recent years but the games are still able to contribute a minimum of $250 million each year for the state. This money is much-needed as Connecticut is currently facing a budget deficit of $1.7 billion. The tribal representatives along with lawmakers met for four hours on Thursday and discussed the third gaming venue. Representative Joe Verrengia stated that he is not threatened by the statement of losing slot gaming funds.
Verrengia commented that the pressing issue moving forward is the question as to if the process for the third casino be opened up to be competitive to see if there is any more interest or should the state deal exclusively with the Indian tribes? The tribes have taken their time with the process, as it has been 15 months since they were given approval to begin the search for a third location.
Narrowing Down Their Search
The tribes have stated that they are days away from announcing the location for the third casino, though many are skeptical. The tribes have been looking in the Hartford area and expect to be able to use a new gaming venue to bring back revenues that might otherwise go to Massachusetts via the MGM Resorts International new gaming venue, MGM Springfield.
Speakers were invited to this recent meeting including the Chief of the Schaghticoke Tribe, Richard Velky. Velky stated that it makes more sense to create a new casino south of Springfield and that his tribe is ready and able to develop a commercial casino in the southwestern or western section of the state.
The area of Bridgeport enter into the conversation as many feel it would be an ideal location for the gaming venue. Other tribes want to get in on the gaming action and of course this will not sit well with the Mohegan and the Mashantucket tribes. As it stands, the latter have the go ahead to move forward but it seems that if a location is not announced and plans moved forward, lawmakers might decide to go in a different direction.
All eyes are on the state at the moment as an answer is expected in the near future as to where the new development will be located. It will be interesting to see if the two tribes can come to an agreement and find a location or if the process will only continue to take more time.