Through the first 4 months of the year, we have been following the casino legislation process in Connecticut closely.
Though the news front has been quiet for about a month or so, the onset of this week brought with it a new headline. Towards the end of last week, it was announced that the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee did not forward a bill to the floor of the House. The bill in question would have mandated that a bidding process occur in order to establish who will be able to build and manage Connecticut’s prospective 3rd casino.
The bill, which has existed for some time now, had a deadline of last Friday. Being that it wasn’t forwarded to the House floor, the bill is now dead. In order to get the motion up and running again, a new bill will have to be introduced.
Bill 7319, which was first brought up about a month ago, would have allowed the Department of Consumer Protection as well as the Department of Economic and Community Development to select an organization to build and manage what would be the state’s 3rd casino. To be fair, however, the bill used the words “casino gaming facility” to describe the state’s prospective 3rd casino.
Though the failed bill was only a few weeks old, the fact of the matter is that state representatives did their due diligence. Senator Cathy Osten, whose district includes both of Connecticut’s casinos, commented on the bill a few weeks ago. In her commentary, she made it clear that approving a third, non-Native American, casino to exist would be a big mistake for the state. The reason for this being that the allowance of a non-Native entity to control a 3rd casino would risk the revenue the state currently sees from its casinos. To make a long story short, the state of Connecticut currently has an agreement with Native tribes that sees millions of dollars in gambling revenue flow through to the state annually.
This revenue is only given to the state so long as the Native tribes with whom the agreement was originally made are in total control of the gambling industry. If non-Native entities are introduced to the gambling landscape of Connecticut, all previous agreements, in theory, go out the window.
Though, for now, Native American casinos are still intact and going to continue funneling money through to the state, there is no doubt that another bill will be introduced before long. The simple fact of the matter is that the casino industry in New England is seeing more and more competition. As this remains true, we are sure to see more bills just like this one.