Plans to build a third casino in Connecticut are moving forward after residents of East Windsor rejected an ordinance, submitted by petition, that town leaders said could have shut down casino plans.
During a town meeting, residents debated the proposed ordinance that would have required a minimum distance between a gaming establishment and a state-licensed residential treatment facility, which many believed the proposed casino would violate.
"This proposed ordinance is about doing something the town already does plenty of: regulating what, where and how certain private and business activities can be carried out in our neighborhoods," said Brianna Stronk, who submitted the petition.
"Do we really want a gaming facility within a 10-minute walk of a facility that currently provides mental health and addiction support?" asked another East Windsor resident who was in favor of the ordinance.
Town Counsel Joshua Hawks-Ladds said the proposed ordinance was illegal and that it would invite lawsuits and other problems down the road.
"What happens once the casino is built and there's a state order to build a facility? You’re going to have a million dollar empty building on your hands?" Hawks-Ladds said.
Supporters of the ordinance argued that it wasn't about eliminating the casino, but others said that's exactly what it boiled down to.
At the end of the debate, town residents lined up to vote to accept or reject the ordinance. If they had accepted the ordinance, it would have gone to referendum. The proposed ordinance was rejected, 198 to 112.
The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal partnership -- MMCT Venture – wants to build a casino at the site of the abandoned Showcase Cinema and Wal-Mart off Interstate 91 in East Windsor.
"While we think it is unfortunate that the residents of East Windsor have been denied a chance to voice their opinion on hosting a casino in their town, the news of the past few days regarding the state's finances has been eye-opening. Given the magnitude of the growing-by-the-day fiscal crisis, it would seem like a really bad idea to jeopardize a guaranteed revenue stream of $250 million a year -- which is what the Attorney General has said might happen if the Legislature approves a casino in East Windsor," Uri Clinton, senior vice president and legal counsel for MGM Resorts International, said in a statement.
The state legislature still needs to approve the building of a casino.