Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said on Friday in an interview for local media that he would only sign a casino expansion proposal that would not harm the existing revenue sharing agreement between the state and its two federally recognized tribes.
The Connecticut Legislature has a little more than two weeks to decide whether it would re-open the bidding casino process for the construction of the state’s third Las Vegas-style gambling venue or would grant the Mohegan and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribes the necessary approval to jointly build such a venue. This year’s legislative session is set to conclude on June 7. The state’s legislative body may also decide not to act on the matter at all, thus leaving the issue unsolved.
In 2015, the Legislature gave the green light to the two tribes to build together a casino on non-reservation land. Both the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots currently operate one casino each, with both properties located on reservation land. The move for a commercial casino was approved after it had become clear that Las Vegas operator MGM Resorts International would build a $950-million resort in the Massachusetts city of Springfield.
Gov. Malloy told The CT Mirror that he is neutral on whether Connecticut should expand its casino industry, but pointed out that if the General Assembly decides in favor of the move, it should respect the more than two-decade compact with the tribes. Under the 1993 agreement, the two tribes were to grant annually 25% of their slot machine revenue to state coffers in exchange for exclusivity over casino gambling.
The two tribal casinos have contributed $7 billion to the state since 1993 and are expected to contribute $260 million this year. Gov. Malloy said that he would refuse to sign anything that would put in danger the tribe’s exclusivity and the revenue sharing agreement. Thus, it can be said that lobbying efforts for re-opening the bidding process and allowing other interested parties to take part in it have not produced the desired effect in the state Legislature.
Earlier this year, the two tribes reached an agreement with the town of East Windsor to host their joint casino. The property will aim to challenge the MGM Springfield resort as its direct competitor.
Here it is important to note that MGM Resorts has been among the staunchest supporters of the idea for a new call for bids to be announced by Connecticut lawmakers. The major casino operator with venues in Las Vegas, Maryland, and Macau has expressed openly interest in entering Connecticut’s casino market and building a casino not far from the state’s New York border. MGM has argued that a gambling property in that part of Connecticut would generate much more in tax revenue than one in East Windsor.
Lawmakers have up until the June 7 adjournment date to determine what actions they will take in relation to the state’s casino expansion matter, if any action is to be taken at all.
Robert Johnson is an experienced web author and blogger. He has over three years of experience as a freelance journalist and writer.