Lawmakers Pass East Windsor Casino Bill

The bill now heads to the governor's desk for approval

State lawmakers voted in favor of a proposal early Wednesday morning that puts Connecticut yet another step closer to a new casino in East Windsor.

The House voted on SB 957, which lays out how the state would regulate a casino facility in the state, and authorizes MMCT Venture, LLC, a joint venture between the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, to operate a casino facility off tribal lands.

Discussion went late into the night and the House adjourned around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Both Democrats and Republicans in the House approved the bill with a vote of 103 to 46, with two abstaining. The Senate previously approved the bill.

The bill states that the facility would pay a 25 percent tax on slots and 25 percent on table games – with the revenue from table games being split - 15 percent going to statewide tourism marketing and 10 percent going directly to the state.

East Windsor has already approved plans for a third casino to be built by MMCT Venture. The site would be at the abandoned Showcase Cinema property along Interstate 91. Tribal leaders said the facility would bring more than 1,700 jobs and $8.5 million annually to the town of East Windsor. 

The tribes are pushing for quick action on the casino amid concerns of competition from a new MGM Resorts Management facility scheduled to open next year in Springfield, Mass.

“I’m very happy it passed again as it did in the Senate. I think it’ll save jobs for us in the state of Connecticut. The tribes will be investing a lot of money into the state again and I thank them for the work that they’re doing,” said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.

The tribal chairs also released a statement applauding the vote.

“Tonight the Connecticut General Assembly passed one of the most significant jobs initiatives of the legislative session. With more than 9,000 jobs at risk, legislators banded together to save an important sector of Connecticut’s economy,” wrote Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chairman Rodney Butler.

MGM, which already has an appeal pending in 2nd Circuit Court, challenged the foundations of the bill.

“We’ll continue that fight in court to challenge the constitutional defects of the bill that passed and many of the house members identified that there were constitutional defects even as they voted for the bill,” said MGM Senior Vice President & Legal Counsel Uri Clinton.

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation also threatened legal action over the bill.

“Connecticut overwhelmingly favors an open process, not a scaled down spoiler casino in East Windsor that can’t possibly create real economic growth. Every potential investor and developer, including STN, should have been allowed to participate to give the state the best possible deal; unfortunately, now that we’ve again been excluded from the process, STN has no alternative but to fight it in the courts where hopefully we will finally receive justice,” wrote STN Chief Richard Velky in a statement.

For now, the bill heads to the governor’s desk for approval.

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