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Connecticut lawmakers approve new tribal casino

Conn

connecticut
ecticut lawmakers voted on Wednesday to authorise a legislative package that could lead to a joint venture casino project by the state’s two tribal gaming operators.

The House of Representatives voted 103-46 in favour of the bill that allows the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to build a casino in East Windsor.

Under the bill, the two tribes will be required to pay 25% full-year tax on their gambling revenue. In addition, a last-minute amendment provided for further expansion of the state’s gambling industry, with the number of off-track betting licenses being increased from 18 to 24.

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.

The tribes, which operate the state’s Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, are seeking a third casino in order to compete with MGM Springfield, Massachusetts. MGM’s new $950m casino is set to open in 2018 and is expected to drive away Connecticut gamblers from their state’s tribal casinos.

The Mohegan Tribal Chairman, Kevin Brown, expressed how families of casino workers at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun were “breathing a sigh of relief” at the passing of the new legislation. “With this vote, we have all demonstrated a commitment to protecting the state of Connecticut and the good jobs of its residents,” he said.

MGM and other lawmakers, however, are expressing concern at the lack of competition on private, non-tribal lands.

Uri Clinton, MGM’s Senior Vice-president, told reporters after the vote, “It’s probably the worst example of how to form casino legislation.”

He added: “We will continue to vigorously advocate in the courts as we seek to protect the constitutional rights of any company hoping to do business in Connecticut.”

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