An authorisation to build a third casino in the state of Connecticut had been passed by the State Senate early Wednesday, moving the state’s two Native American tribes in East Windsor closer to their goal of building a gambling facility to compete with the upcoming MGM Springfield casino.
The bill, which passed by a 24 to 12 vote, would allow the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes the ability to open a jointly-run casino in East Windsor. The plan is to invest $300 million into constructing a Las Vegas style facility that will be situated roughly 15 miles away from the MGM casino rumoured to cost around $1 billion.
The tribes celebrated the Senate’s approval, stating that it is a solution to the State’s economical and revenue issues arising from MGM Springfield’s competition.
“We want to thank every senator who voted in for of Senate Bill 957,” said Mohegan Tribal Council Chairman Kevin Brown said in a statement. “The state faces serious financial challenges. This overwhelming, bipartisan vote shows we can be part of the solution.”
Too Soon For Celebrations
Although the bill has passed the Senate, it could face challenges over at the House of Representatives.
“It’s a very complicated issue in and of itself and the political piece is all over the place because you have competing interests and you’re talking about a lot of money,” said West Hartford Rep. Joe Verrengia, the Democratic House chairman of the legislature’s Public Safety Committee.”
MGM argues that by passing the bill, which grants the two tribes exclusive right to develop a casino off tribal reservation land, it discourages healthy competition from outside casino developers, which ultimately will only prove to “shortchange” the residents of Connecticut.
“If the Senate bill were to ultimately become law, numerous national gaming operators – including MGM – would be precluded from offering a competitive bid for consideration,” said Uri Clinton, a lawyer for MGM. “To shut down that opportunity would seem to be a disservice to Connecticut’s hardworking taxpayers.”
The talks come at a time when both existing Connecticut casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, have seen their gaming revenue fall 7.5 percent between 2013 and 2015 to $1.6 billion.
The bill is now in the hands of the House of Representative to decide on its future.