Mohegan Tribe Chairman Kevin Brown, left, and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Chairman Rodney Butler. Photo: CT Jobs Matter

Lawmakers in Connecticut approve bill for tribal gaming facility

It looks like a third casino, to be operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe, is coming to Connecticut.

In an overwhelming vote of 103-46, the House approved a bill to authorize the new facility after concessions were made by the tribes. S.B.957 already passed the Senate and is headed to Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) for his consideration.

“Our state has a longstanding partnership and compact with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal nations who employ thousands of Connecticut residents in their casinos,” Malloy said in a statement after the vote early Wednesday morning. “I have been very clear that I will not sign a bill that puts these jobs at risk, and I look forward to reviewing this proposal.”

The tribes believe the casino, to be located in East Windsor, will protect jobs and keep gaming revenues in the state. They chose the site in order to compete with a $950 million commercial facility under construction just across the border in Massachusetts.

"There are families across the state breathing a sigh of relief tonight thanks to leaders in both chambers and from both parties," Mohegan Chairman Kevin Brown said in a statement, The Hartford Courant reported. "With this vote, we have all demonstrated a commitment to protecting the state of Connecticut and the good jobs of its residents."

The New England Casino Race: Tribal and commercial gaming facilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

As part of the deal for the new establishment, lawmakers also passed H.B.6948, a so-called sweetener bill that authorizes an expansion of off-track betting sites, according to news reports. The tribes are also expected to make some sort of up-front payment that will be distributed to local communities, although details on the estimated $30 million fund are still murky.

The tribes are pursuing the casino outside of the framework of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act so federal approval is not needed for it. The site in East Windsor will not be taken into trust either.

Still, the tribes are expected to ask the Bureau of Indian Affairs to confirm that the new facility -- which will feature slot machines and table games -- does not conflict with their existing federally-approved compacts. The tribes share 25 percent of slot machine revenues with the state in exchange for some form of exclusivity.

Officials from both the Obama and Trump administrations have indicated that those agreements will not be disturbed if the new casino goes through. But no official decision has been made.

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, a state-recognized tribe, is vowing to sue the state for restricting the new casino to the Pequots and Mohegans.

Read More on the Story:
Lawmakers Pick Home Team In Casino Battle; House Approves OTB Expansion (CT News Junkie 6/7)
House Approves East Windsor Casino, Off-Track Betting, Sports Betting; MMA Approved By Senate (The Hartford Courant 6/7)
House votes for final approval of tribes’ casino in East Windsor (The Connecticut Mirror 6/7)
Lawmakers approve new casino for Connecticut, as budget comes down to the wire (WTNH 6/7)
Third tribal casino approved; court action promised (The Connecticut Post 6/7)
Shaghticoke Tribe suing over casino legislation (WTNH 6/7)

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