Development agreement signed for 3rd casino, constitutional questions loom

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EAST WINDSOR, Conn. (WTNH) — The town of East Windsor now has a deal in writing for the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes to develop a third Connecticut casino.  But questions are arising on whether the entire third casino process is Constitutional.

The development deal signed Thursday by the two tribal chairman promises 1,700 construction jobs, 1,700 permanent jobs, most full-time, plus $8.5 million in Property Taxes and other payments to the town of East Windsor every year. They would gut the Cinema complex, which has stood vacant for ten years, transform it with slots and table games and restaurants in order to directly compete with the billion dollar MGM casino complex now under construction just 15 minutes up I-91 in Springfield.

“The choice could not be more simple; will Connecticut sit back and let our jobs and revenue head over the border to Massachusetts or will we fight back,” said Mashantucket Pequot tribal chairman Rodney Butler after the signing ceremony.

The agreement gives priority to hiring employees and contractors from East Windsor and the surrounding area.

Governor Dannel Malloy has now said that a casino at the East Windsor location would save Connecticut gaming jobs and would help preserve the 25 percent cut that the state gets from all slot machine revenue from both tribes.

“Do I think that that means, and I want to be very careful, that more gaming would remain in Connecticut as opposed to being transported to Massachusetts? The answer is yes and therefore there are more jobs connected to that,” said Governor Malloy.

Will Malloy sign a bill into law if the legislature approves giving the Mashantucket/Mohegans the right to open in East Windsor?

“It really very much depends on whether it gets to my desk and what the opinion of the Attorney General will be,” said Malloy.

The governor has now made a formal request to Attorney General George Jepsen for an opinion on whether or not the entire process is constitutional.

There are now two bills before the legislature; one would give the green light to the East Windsor plan and the other would allow MGM and others to compete for the opportunity to operate a third casino in Connecticut.

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