Opinion: Connecticut tribes scramble to protect gaming empire

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Chairman Rodney Butler, left, and Mohegan Tribe Chairman Kevin Brown appeared at a hearing on March 17 to support a bill to authorize more tribally-operated casinos. Photo from CT Jobs Matter

Attorney and former state lawmaker Kevin Rennie believes an expansion of tribal gaming in Connecticut will lead to more corruption:
The great mystery of Connecticut's casino monopoly is why it lasted so long. Massachusetts will host three casinos and a slots facility in the next couple of years. One of them will be in Springfield, another on the edge of Boston. The Massachusetts market has been an important one for Connecticut's casinos. It is about to shrink for Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun casinos in southeastern Connecticut.

Casino gambling has provided billions of dollars to state government under a deal made with the tribes in the 1990s. The state's take, however, is shrinking. Under federal Indian gaming law, the two tribes did not need state approval to build their casinos on their reservations and offer table games to customers. The real money, however, is in slots. So Gov. Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., a one-time fierce opponent of casino gaming, entered into an agreement that allowed an expansion of gaming into slots in exchange for a piece of the action for state government.

The money, and there was a lot of it, would stop flowing if the state authorized another casino that was not run by the Indians. That proved a considerable impediment to the forces who wanted to expand casino gambling into Connecticut's cities. When Weicker's successor, John G. Rowland, got on the casino bandwagon, he joined the Pequots in proposing a casino in Bridgeport that the tribe would operate. That proposal failed.

Because convenience is a big influence over which casino people patronize, the looming Springfield pleasure palace threatens to suck a lot of wagers out of Connecticut. The state's croupiers are in for a bad time. Some legislators think this is the moment to build a casino in northern Connecticut, near I-91, to divert gamblers headed for Springfield.

Get the Story:
Kevin Rennie: As Finances Deteriorate, Legislators And Tribes Scramble (The Hartford Courant 4/10)

Also Today:
Keno resurrected as state considers more casinos (AP 4/9)
Keno's back on the table, again (The New London Day 4/10)

Related Stories
Tribes warn of job and revenue losses at casinos in Connecticut (4/7)
Connecticut tribes defend gaming after swipe by non-Indian rival (4/2)
Opinion: Connecticut tribes face challenges to gaming empire (3/31)
Dennis Jenkins: Hypocrisy for new tribal casinos in Connecticut (3/27)
Connecticut lawmakers move fast on bill for new tribal casinos (3/20)

Join the Conversation