Opinion: Bid for more Connecticut casinos comes down to money

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 isn't convinced by the push from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe for more casinos in Connecticut:
The tribes and their allies want the state to bestow on them a privilege denied everyone else: the right to build a casino. This will strike most people as unfair. The tribes have done well in the gambling business on their reservations. When Massachusetts began its long process of reviewing, voting on and selecting proposals, the Connecticut tribes jumped in and competed with other corporate hopefuls. They wanted to be part of reducing casino business in Connecticut when it would profit them.

Each tribe was rejected in competitions in different parts of Massachusetts, though the Pequots recently joined a group hoping to build a casino by the water in New Bedford. That will reduce what Connecticut makes from the casinos here.

The tribes and developers want to build a small casino on the site of a shuttered multiplex movie theater in East Hartford. A multiscreen theater in East Windsor that closed long ago appears to be in play, too. I was a patron of both for many years. No one ever suggested they were built on Indian reservations.

One of the developers of the East Hartford site is Anthony Ravosa. He was part of a group seeking to build a casino in Holyoke, Mass., during that community's quixotic dalliance with casino gaming. He was happy to reduce gaming in Connecticut if he could profit. Ravosa came to unhappy prominence in Connecticut early in this century when he was a consultant to Enron working the levers of influence with Gov. John Rowland. An expensive mess ensued, now he proposes another one.

The latest casino plans are about money. For a lot of players at the table, guarding the flow of money to state government is its cover, not its purpose.

Get the Story:
Kevin Rennie: Risky Casino Push Is Just A Hustle For The Money (The Hartford Courant 5/1)

Also Today:
East Hartford Officials, Tribes Meet About Casino Proposal (The Hartford Courant 4/30)

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