Tribes Move Forward with Selection Process for Connecticut Casino

by Jim Hall

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun operators narrow down selections for possible third casino in Connecticut.

It has taken over a year for the owners of the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casino to come to a decision in regards to a location for a third gaming venue in the state of Connecticut. Construction continues to move forward with competitors with the operators now narrowing down their location choices to two spots.

East Windsor and Windsor Locks

Mashantucket PequotThe Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots are the tribal groups who currently operate gaming venues and would be working together to create a third venue in Connecticut. The tribes have cut down their choices to two areas, after eliminating South Windsor, East Hartford and Hartford. The jointly-operated casino will now most likely be created in East Windsor or Windsor Locks. Locations include that of the former Bradley International Airport.

The gaming venue is being seen as a defense tactic to keep casino visitors who live in the state from going elsewhere. The casino would be used to keep revenues in the state as well as create new employment positions. For a third casino to be constructed, the General Assembly will have to give their approval. A five months session of the General Assembly began last week. Supporters of the plan tried to gain approval in 2016 but the tribes were unable to find a final location for the venue.

A Little History

One year ago, the tribes were set to work together to create the Hartford project and were looking at locations during a first round of proposals. This past fall, the joint venture, known as MMCT, went through an additional round of proposals to see plans change dramatically.

MGM has produced a challenge in court towards the state law that would allow the tribal groups to search for a casino site and no one else. MGM has called the tribes out for lack of transparency when pursuing sites for the project, especially the airport area.

A spokesman for MGM, Bernard Kavaler, stated that the fact that the process is where it is at speaks volumes as to the process or lack of process. Kavaler called the process a sham and that it is being run by tribes for tribes and not the taxpayers. Instead of creating a public process that is competitive and fair, reliable and transparent, everyone is waiting for an announcement as to what the tribes will do next.

Late last week, the officials of MMCT announced that more time was needed to be able to conduct an exhaustive review of the proposed sites of Windsor Locks and East Windsor. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chairman, Rodney Butler, stated that after a detailed economic analysis, the group has determined that Windsor Locks and East Windsor align best with the development models and preserved more jobs and revenue for the state.

The MMCT stated that wherever the facility is built, they are committed to being excellent neighbors and dedicated to help the capital region succeed. The Friday release of information did not include specific locations that are currently being considered. We do know that East Windsor proposed Showcase Cinemas which has been vacant for some time as well as a Walmart property on I-91. In Windsor Locks, a site is being considered that is located near Boby V’s restaurant and an off-track betting parlor.

Back in 2014, lawmakers showed support for finding a site as they were worried that the MGM Casino in Springfield would be a threat to revenues of the state as well as jobs. MMCT stated last year that they have plans to bring a preferred site to lawmakers this session but the decision process of the site still remains to be made.