HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A decision by a powerful legislative committee on a third Connecticut casino is expected within the next three weeks. State lawmakers on the Public Safety Committee hearing today from the two Native-American tribes pushing the plan. They say it would save jobs and state revenue. Another major casino developer says there’s another way.
Construction is moving ahead quickly on the MGM Springfield, Mass. casino complex which is on schedule for opening by the end of next year. At the State Capitol, representatives of Connecticut’s two casino tribes told lawmakers they are closing in on a final decision on whether they want to build the third Connecticut casino at either a tobacco field in Windsor Locks or a former movie complex in East Windsor.
“We’re days, not weeks or months, we’re days from announcing a decision about the ultimate location of this third casino,” said Kevin Brown the Mohegan Tribal Chair.
The Mohegan and Mashantucket leaders telling lawmakers that the Springfield casino represents a massive economic threat to casino jobs here and to the state economy because of the loss of tribal revenue sharing.
But a representative from MGM told lawmakers that the state would be better off placing a third casino in Southern Connecticut, west of New Haven.
“We do believe that being able to tap into the New York market would bring new revenues and new economic activity into the State of Connecticut and could actually be a boon,” said Uri Clinton of MGM Resorts International.
The governor, who has not taken a position on a third casino, was quick with a sarcastic response.
“I’m shocked that MGM would say that based on their investment to poach this market place, I’m shocked,” said Malloy.
MGM has made it clear in the past that the Springfield casino is aimed at attracting customers from Connecticut.
The tribes packed Thursday’s hearing with casino workers who have heard the predictions that when Springfield opens the Connecticut casinos will end up laying off thousands more workers and that the only way to stem that tide is to build a casino at either the tobacco field site in Windsor Locks, or the former movie complex in East Windsor to capture gamblers on their way north on I-91 towards Springfield.
Casino opponents are miffed that they were locked out of today’s hearing but the chairman of the committee assures that there will be a Public Hearing on the issue before the Committee deadline on March 16th.