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House Oks bill to expand off-track betting
09 June 2017, 09:21 | Audrey Hill
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The legislation authorizes the tribal owners of Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun, two of the world's largest gaming resorts, to open a satellite casino off I-91 in East Windsor, a community of 12,000 between Hartford and Springfield that already has approved the project.
This overall, last-minute pact comes on the eve of the final day of this year's regular legislative session, which ends Wednesday at midnight.
"Connecticut missed an enormous opportunity to put in place an open, transparent and competitive casino process, which could have resulted in as much as $1 billion in economic development, the creation of thousands of jobs and a licensing fee paid to the state of up to $100 million", Uri Clinton, the senior vice president and legal counsel for MGM Resorts International, said in a statement.
The legislative piece now needs to be signed into law by Governor Dannel P. Malloy, who recently told the media that in terms of gambling expansion, he would support a deal that would keep casino jobs and revenue in Connecticut's borders. A companion bill that helps the pari-mutuel industry by expanding the number of available off-track betting licenses from 18 to 24, passed on a closer vote of 77 to 72.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (ehr-eh-SIM'-oh-wits) is calling the situation "fluid", saying nothing has been finalized.
Unlike the early years of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, when the two casinos grew and prospered in eastern CT with little gambling competition in the Northeast, the tribes are fighting a holding action meant to mitigate the loss of business in a market approaching saturation. The tribes had sought approval for their project in an effort to compete with the opulent MGM casino/resort now under construction in Springfield, Massachusetts.
MGM has argued that allowing the two tribes to operate a casino off tribal land would be unconstitutional, and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to that effect to Connecticut Attorney George Jepsen. The gambling venue will aim to be a direct competitor to the $950-million resort Las Vegas casino giant MGM Resorts International is now building in neighboring MA.
MGM International, which is now building a casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, is also lobbying hard to be allowed to make a proposal in CT.
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