Conn. lawmakers move along two casino expansion bills

Mar 16, 2017 9:00 AM

A Connecticut State Legislative committee Wednesday took steps to move forward two contrasting bills that would expand casino gambling in the state. However, some members of the General Assembly's Public Safety Committee made it clear the issue is far from settled. Several lawmakers said greater discussion is needed about the implications of authorizing a casino on nontribal land.

One bill authorizes the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to build a jointly run satellite casino in East Windsor. The tribes say they need the facility to battle competition from the MGM Resorts International casino being built in Springfield, Massachusetts, and protect jobs at the two major casinos in southeastern Connecticut.

The second bill requires the state Departments of Consumer Protection and Economic and Community Development to devise a process for requesting proposals from developers to build a commercial casino anywhere in Connecticut.

Backers of the tribal bill insist that more than 9,000 jobs and millions of dollars in state tax revenue will be lost if MGM is allowed to open a new $950 million casino over the state border in late 2018 without a competing, nearby casino in Connecticut. MGM has said it favors a path that would open up the casino selection process to any company and allow development of a casino/resort anywhere in the state.