Native tribes in Connecticut have taken the next step to opening a 3rd casino in the state. If successful, the 3rd casino will extend beyond the Federal deals that have been struck in order to allow tribal gaming up to this point. Today, it was announced that the state’s two currently operating entities, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, have officially decided on a location for a 3rd casino, and that location will be in East Windosr.
The news sounds all fine and good, but a monkey wrench may be thrown into the tribes’ plans in the form of a piece of legislation that would open up the 3rd casino to operation from an outside entity. In the words of Representative Joe Verrengia, the state is going to draft two bills in order to address more than one side of the issue.
Despite the creation of these bills, the joint venture between the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans, known as MMCT Venture, announced their location for a 3rd casino. They decides to use a vacant building that was once a movie theater complex. The site is located just off the heavily trafficked I-91. Though MMCT Venture has been pondering locations for a while now, they needed to announce an official location quickly because the last time the measure could be put up for vote is on March 16th. If the bill and location were not submitted in time, they would have to wait until next year.
Those in favor of the 3rd casino feel the way they do, primarily, because it will be one step in combating a massive gambling operation that is currently under construction just over the border in Springfield, Mass. The nearly $1 billion project has long been thought of as nothing more than Massachusetts’ very blatant effort to attract Connecticut citizens to come over the border and spend money in their state.
Not only would another casino in Connecticut create more casino jobs, it would preserve gambling revenue that the state has come to rely on.
With all of this being said, there still is a chance that the 3rd casino, if approved, may be opened up to operators other than the aforementioned Connecticut tribes. If the state does move to allow another operator into Connecticut, a different bag of worms might be opened up. In this scenario, Connecticut allowing another company, such as MGM, to operate the 3rd casino would violate pacts reached with the tribes many years ago. If this does happen, the tribes have made it very clear that they will no longer be obliged to pay out taxes on slot machine revenues. Though there has been little discussion as to the legal merit of this argument, it seems as though opening up to another operator is a situation that will create more problems for Connecticut than it would solve. After all, with millions and millions of tax revenue dollars streaming in each year from the state’s two casinos, it would seem foolish to risk all of that just to offset a Massachusetts casino that hasn’t even opened its doors yet.
As is the case in Georgia, we will continue to keep a close eye on Connecticut as there are still a lot of moving parts in this situation.