Tribes Continue to Fight for Third casino in Connecticut

by Jim Hall

Casino employees of the two existing casinos in Connecticut rally this week in order to gain support for third casino plan.

The Mohegan’s and the Mashantucket Pequot’s already operate one gaming venue each within the state of Connecticut on tribal lands.  The two groups came together some time ago in efforts to create a third casino in the state, this time not on tribal lands. The new venue would be located in East Windsor, yet the tribes cannot seem to garner any support for their plan. Reportedly, this week, employees of both tribal operated casinos rallied at the state capitol in order to gain support.

State Capitol Rally

Employees associated with the two gaming venues of Connecticut took to the state capitol on Wednesday to rally in support of the plan to create a new casino in East Windsor, off tribal lands. The two federally recognized tribes of the state would be working together to operate the venue and would use the space as a way to combat the incoming competition from MGM Springfield, a gaming venue in the works in Massachusetts. MGM Resorts is spending $950 million to create the integrated resort.

Officials of both tribes have tried to point out that the MGM facility will hit the casino industry hard once the gaming venue is open. The tribes feel that as many as 9,000 employees or more could lose their job once the MGM Springfield casino opens. The state has until late 2018 until the venue will open.

Both tribes have urged the Legislature of the state to provide the necessary approvals for their project so they can begin work and see the new venue come to fruition by the time the MGM Springfield resort opens or at least a short time after. The East Windsor location will reportedly keep jobs in the state as well as much-needed revenues.

More about East Windsor

East WindsorThe community of East Windsor is located just twenty minutes from Springfield. The new casino by the tribes would cost about $300 million to create and would be located on the site of the former Showcase Cinema. Once operational, the tribes have stated that the gaming venue will provide 25% of their slot revenues to the state. The same share is currently paid by each tribe and their respective gaming venue.

When it comes to the matter of the casino, there are several bills on the table for legislators to consider. One bill would allow the project to continue in East Windsor and another would start the process all over again by allowing outside operators to vie for licensing. A third measure would see the construction of a tribal casino in the northern region of the state and a commercial option in the southwestern region.

If the measure that calls for a bids to reopened, the tribes could lose their right to operate a joint venture. A new operator could win the licensing, such as MGM Resorts International, the company behind the new Massachusetts venue. They have shown interest in operating within the state.

Legislators basically have until June 7th to make a decision before the current legislative session ends. Right now, according to Joe Aresimowicz, the House Speaker, the tribes have about a 50/50 chance of holding on to their right to the third casino of the state.

Only time will tell who will be able to bring a third venue to Connecticut or if a new gaming venue will ever come to fruition. One would imagine some type of decision will come before the June deadline.