East Windsor Residents Voice Opposition to Proposed Casino

People in East Windsor are finding new ways to stop a casino from being built in their community.

The town selectmen already gave the project the okay, though it’s far from a done deal.

“We don’t see the need for any casino in the area at all,” Bob Kuehnel, of East Windsor, said.

That’s why more than 100 opponents showed up at the East Windsor High School auditorium on Monday.

They’ve started a petition calling for a town referendum about building a casino on the site of an abandoned movie theater near I-91.

“To bring a casino in would ruin the whole atmosphere of the town,” Judy Kuehnel of East Windsor, said.

They heard from former Congressman Bob Steele, who represented the Norwich area.

His book and his talk offered a cautionary tale about the effects of casinos.

“The social and economic costs outweigh any economic benefits by more than three to one,” Steele said.

More than a week ago town leaders approved an agreement with the tribes developing the casino.

On Monday, some selectmen showed up and heard fears about the potential negative effects of gambling including increased crime, traffic, and gambling addictions.

There was also skepticism about whether promised jobs would be filled locally.

NBC Connecticut asked one selectman if the concerns were legitimate.

“Some of them are. Some of them are. But some were misrepresented,” Steve Dearborn, East Windsor Selectman, said.

The tribes argue a third site in the state is needed to compete with a casino opening in Springfield, Massachusetts.

They’ve promised some 1,700 jobs and more than eight-million dollars a year in payments to the town.

“I think this casino coming to East Windsor is going to be a plus for the economy of East Windsor,” Marie Desousa of East Windsor, said.

Besides calling for a referendum, opponents also have their eyes set on Hartford.

The legislature and governor still need to approve the project, and there is a legislative hearing on this set for Thursday.

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