Connecticut House Votes in Favor of New Tribal Casino Agreement
The Connecticut House of Representatives on Wednesday joined Governor Daniel Malloy by voting in favor of new casino agreements with two local tribal nations. The House voted 118-32 in favor of the idea. Now, the new deals will move to the Connecticut state Senate and the US Bureau of Indian Affairs for approval. Once the measure passes through both, as expected, tribes will be greenlighted to begin construction on a new $300 million casino.
Last month, Malloy inked a bill authorizing construction of the new facility. In order to make sure Connecticut’s current tax revenue generated at a couple of other local casinos would not be hampered, Malloy and the tribes decided it would be best to modify their deal.
Competing with Nearby MGM Property
When he first signed the bill, Malloy said, “Over the years, our state has maintained a longstanding partnership and compact with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal nations.”
The new site, which will be located in East Windsor, was chosen with MGM’s new $950 million resort in mind. MGM is currently in process of building that facility 15 miles to the north in Springfield, Massachusetts. The state of Connecticut and local tribes want to make sure the state’s lucrative gambling operations are protected.
The new agreement makes sure that the new casino in East Windsor will not compromise the revenue-sharing arrangement at the other local casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. The older deal said that Connecticut would be in violation if it agreed to greenlight a new casino on land that was not sovereign, even if it was owned by tribes.
The new deal also fixes a loophole that would have allowed the tribes to leave the deal and send 25% of gross gaming revenue to the state. Both the Mohegan and Mashantucket tribes also agreed to pay $1 million apiece as a down payment for the new casino. As is the case at their other properties, 25 percent of gross gaming revenue will go to the state of Connecticut. The tribes will also pay $300,000 per year toward gambling addiction initiatives.
The Connecticut Senate will vote on the new deal next week, though it is highly expected to pass.
MGM Still Fighting
MGM, for its part, pledges to continue to battle in Connecticut with its opinion that Connecticut is essentially legalizing commercial gambling without voter approval. MGM is also complaining that MGM is building a casino without a legitimate and competitive bidding process.
The state currently has no law that authorizes commercial or non-tribal gambling. However, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun continue to operate under federal Indian gaming law, which allows Class 1 and II gaming on sovereign lands. Amending the agreements to authorize Class III “tribal gaming” on land that is not owned federally is where MGM is trying to plead its own case.
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