Connecticut is well underway with regard to its plans for opening a 3rd casino, however the location for that casino has yet to be determined. State legislators are currently hearing pitches from potential operators in an attempt to decipher the best, most strategic location for this new site.
The location of the casino is an incredibly important because it is going to be inserted directly into the bill. Having said that, a bill that would pave the way for a third casino has not even been drafted yet. Until a location can be determined, Connecticut’s 3rd casino will remain nothing more than a nice idea.
Joe Verrengia is the co-chair of Connecticut’s public safety and security committee, and he is going to play a major role in this bill-drafting process as his committee oversees state gaming operations. He recently commented on the process by saying, “We haven’t drafted a bill yet, and even before we think about drafting a bill and have a public hearing, we need to get feedback from all the stakeholders and put all the options on the table.”
The stakeholders which he is referencing are representatives from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, which will also play a vital role in determining the best location for a third casino. In addition to representatives from Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, 2 Native American tribes (the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation and the Golden Hill Paugussetts) as well as MGM will also partake. MGM is involved because they are currently constructing a gaming operation in Springfield, Massachusetts that will open next year. Being that Springfield is located close to the Connecticut border, it is only right that they are let in on the planning process.
Right now, the only 2 casinos in Connecticut are owned by Native Tribes. These licenses were awarded after long, arduous legal battles. In order for a 3rd casino to be built in Connecticut, a lot must be done from a legal standpoint. The reason for this is due to the fact that, if Connecticut allows an outside operator, the two tribes that currently have casinos will be released from paying taxes to the state. For Connecticut, this would mean the $200 million in taxes earned each year would vanish, seemingly overnight. Of course, the goal of this legislative process is to get Native tribes on board with the idea of a 3rd casino. If they are on board, Connecticut can not only retain the tax revenue they are receiving currently, but also increase it.
At the present moment in time there are a lot of unknowns surrounding this situation. Seeing as a bill has not even been drafted yet, it is safe to say we are a good ways away from a 3rd Connecticut casino. The real takeaway from all of this is the clear alteration of opinion in New England. Only 20 years ago the region was, quite clearly, opposed to gambling of all sorts. Nowadays, however, that much is beginning to change, and fast.