HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — One of the state’s highest ranking lawmakers has killed that proposal to bring video slot machines to the state’s three off-track betting facilities. At the same time, the state’s new Senate Majority Leader has opened the door to talk with the state Indian tribes about an expansion of gambling. The new Majority Leader in the State Senate, Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) made it clear Monday: no deal without the tribes.
For over two decades, the state of Connecticut has received hundreds of millions of dollars per year from the slot machines at both of the Native American casinos in southeastern Connecticut. The agreement with the state giving the casinos the slots was in return for 25-percent of the take.
Monday, one of the tribes came down like a sledgehammer on the bill that would authorize video slots at the state’s three off-track betting parlors.
“The state’s two Native American tribes have the exclusive right to operate slots,” said Mohegan Chief of Staff Chuck Bunnell. “Any new operation of slots by anyone other than the two tribes will make the agreement null and void.”
Duff reacted almost immediately, killing the bill.
“Having increased slots over at OTB facilities in our state is not going to happen,” said Duff. “The bill is dead on arrival.”
Back in November, Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown said the tribe wanted to explore expanding into northern Connecticut because of the expected competition from the big casino planned for Springfield.
“Our prime desire is to begin the conversation with the Connecticut Legislature about the idea of expanding gaming,” said Brown on Nov. 12. “It’s just the right thing for us to do to protect, not only our business venture, but the state tax revenue.”
“I believe if we’re going to have any type of expansion, we need to do that in consultation with the tribes and have a discussion with them,” said Duff.
It appears that the tribes now have the attention of a high ranking member of the General Assembly.