Battle for third Connecticut casino back to square one

Connecticut’s Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes may find themselves back to the drawing board after a bill seeking to open casino expansion to a competitive bidding process has been filed in the State Capitol.

It also turns out that the new casino expansion bill, which is scheduled to be tackled on March 8, also calls for the repeal of a law that gave the tribes the go-ahead to start constructing a joint venture casino off tribal land in East Windsor.

The Hartford Courant reported that lawmakers from Bridgeport are pushing for the repeal of Public Act 17-89 (PA 17-89), which authorized the East Windsor facility.

On Thursday, Public Safety Committee co-chairman Rep. Joe Verrengia justified the move for the scrapping of PA 17-89 since the new bill requires a $50 million licensing fee, which isn’t found in the East Windsor Expansion Act.

“If we’re going to have a legitimate competitive process, we would have to do that without the East Windsor casino in play because we are asking as part of the process a $50 million licensing fee,” Verrengia said, according to the news outlet.

The new bill outlines what should be included in a casino proposal, such as having a workforce of at least 2,000. It also provides that the winning bidder must agree to remit at least 25 percent of gross gaming revenues from all games – plus at least 10 percent from slot machines – to the state. The deadline for bids is on January 1, 2019.

Tribe supporter and Public Safety Committee co-chairman Sen. Tim Larson, however, said there is something fishy about the latest bill being peddled by Verrengia. He claimed that casino operator MGM Resorts was behind the calls for the repeal of PA 17-89 in order to delay construction of a casino that will rival its Springfield casino.

“I frankly was and still remain extremely upset that this new idea is just a baked plan by MGM,” Larson said, according to the news outlet.


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