Malloy now open-minded on casino expansion

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Malloy now says he is open-minded about an expansion of casino gambling in Connecticut. The Mohegan Tribe has made a formal proposal to the Governor to help protect thousands of jobs and the hundreds of millions of dollars the state gets from all those slot machines.

A new report concludes that plenty of people are gambling, but many continue to gamble at new facilities in our neighboring states and not at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville.

“This unveiling reminds me of a quote from a famous Connecticut resident, Mark Twain. ‘The rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated,'” said Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin “Red Eagle” Brown Thursday as he announced that the tribe will move forward with a second hotel tower, bringing their capacity for overnight visitors to almost 1,600.

The tribe says there is demand and points to figures that show they had to refer hundreds of thousands of hotel reservations to other properties in the past year because their hotel was filled, especially as they continue to offer more concerts and other events.

The Governor and Lt. Governor came to the casino for the announcement and say that the Mohegans have now made formal proposals to him for gambling expansion, and although he has been dismissive of this idea in the past, he now says he is more open-minded.  

“I’m not saying no, I’m not saying yes,” said Gov. Malloy. “I haven’t even read the proposal, so I mean, give me a little time.”

The Tribal Chairman says that while they still want to expand into northern Connecticut to compete with a new casino in Springfield, they also have eyes on southern Connecticut.  

“There are a number of arteries coming out of both Massachusetts and New York, they’re obvious locations that would be a place to intercept any sort of convenience gambling,” said Brown.

The point the tribe is making with the hotel expansion is that gambling isn’t dead, you just have to work harder to get the gamblers through your doors because there is now so much competition. It means money to the state and jobs for Connecticut residents.  

“I think jobs and the larger contribution to the economy is something that has to be understood and measured, and I think that’s what certainly I’m going to pay attention to in these deliberations,” said Gov. Malloy.

The Governor says a bill has already been submitted to the legislature that would be a vehicle for expansion into northern and southern Connecticut.

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