Connecticut’s third casino has been authorized by General Assembly, and after signing the bill into law Thursday, progress could start immediately.
“We’ve been waiting for this day for a fairly long time,” said Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Nation, the tribe that runs Mohegan Sun.
The bill signing ceremony comes after more than two years of discussion and debate over the prospect of a third casino. The catalyst for the conversation was the announcement that MGM would open a casino just over the state’s border with Massachusetts in Springfield.
Gov. Dannel Malloy had stayed out of the public debate until late in the 2017 Legislative Session, when he threw his support behind the tribes, and not a proposal backed by MGM to provide an open commercial bid process.
“Let there be no doubt that Massachusetts made a decision to do whatever they could to get as much gaming out of Connecticut and into their state and this was an appropriate response to what Massachusetts has done and quite frankly what other states have done,” Malloy said.
Tribal leaders, construction groups, and labor unions have all sold the project as a jobs-saving endeavor, for fear of Massachusetts casinos taking away hundreds of millions in revenue from the Connecticut facilities.
MGM has already lost one court battle over the state’s process but has vowed to challenge Connecticut’s newest casino authorization in court.
Malloy said what won him over was the relationship the state enjoys with the two tribal nations.
“This is worth fighting for,” Malloy said. “This is worth protecting and quite frankly its worth keeping Connecticut dollars spent in Connecticut as opposed to going up 91 and being spent someplace else.”
Malloy also said the state still must approve the amendment to its agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the BIA must then sign off on it.
The tribes were confident the bureaucratic process will be a successful one.
Tribal leaders said they plan to put an entirely new building and parking layout on the site of the former Showcase Cinema in East Windsor, and that progress on that front could start very soon with a demolition of the old structure.
Kevin Brown said, “Yes, BIA is going to say OK, yes we’re going to demolish the movie theater and yes we have a schedule for all of that.”