(WTNH)–Just when you thought things had settled down at the State Capitol for the summer; a plan for a massive expansion of gambling emerges. It would expand the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes monopoly into almost every wager.
Lawmakers from both political parties from Southeast Connecticut, the East Windsor area and Bridgeport are all on board. You may remember that on the last day of the regular legislative session in June, there was flurry of activity pushing for a Bridgeport casino plan. It never came up for a vote but the lawmakers pushing it never gave up.
The Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes have had a monopoly on casino gaming in Connecticut for nearly 3 decades in exchange for 25 percent of all slot revenue at both casinos. This proposal greatly expands that monopoly to nearly every form of gambling.
It allows the tribes to build a small casino in Bridgeport that supporters hope would spur more development. It allows them to move forward with the previously approved casino in East Windsor, plus run internet gambling and sports betting. It would also give the go ahead for internet gambling with the Lottery Corporation and establish ‘Entertainment Zones’ to include things like sports betting in Hartford and two other cities.
The gambling expansion plan includes an expansion of the sources of gambling revenue going to state government. The tribes would assume all financial risk in the event of an inevitable lawsuit by MGM or someone else.
The state would get 25 percent of slot revenue and table games from the new facilities, 8%-10% on other forms of gambling. It would call for additional funding grants to New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury and several other communities.
“Maximum revenue for the state while also giving the opportunity for increased jobs in the Bridgeport area,” said Rep. Chris Davis (R-East Windsor).
Sen. Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) added, “All of the people that are involved in the components of this bill from Bridgeport, East Windsor and Southeast Connecticut are all interested in us doing it sooner rather than later.”
While the lawmakers involved would like to do this in Special Session this year the Governor almost immediately put the brakes on the plan saying, ‘I’ve got to make sure that whatever deal we’re able to come forward with does not lead us to another year upon year of litigation and stop this dead in the tracks.”
The two tribal chairmen releasing a statement saying this is the best way to move forward.
News 8 reached out to a spokesman for MGM, but they have declined to comment.