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Bill renews effort to repeal authorization for tribes’ East Windsor casino

January 18, 2019

A proposed bill that surfaced Friday could rekindle the third-casino debate — again.

Introduced by a lawmaker whose district includes parts of three Fairfield County towns near Bridgeport, the measure would require state officials to seek proposals for a casino and repeal authorization for the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes’ proposed East Windsor casino.

The proposal, submitted by Rep. Ben McGorty, R-Shelton, was referred to the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee. It’s similar to legislation backed a year ago by MGM Resorts International, the casino operator that has hindered the tribes’ bid to develop the state’s third casino while proposing to build one in Bridgeport. Last year’s bill was altered to eliminate the provision calling for the repeal of the 2017 law that authorized the East Windsor casino. The bill then passed in the House, 77-73, but never came to a vote in the Senate.

McGorty’s district includes parts of Shelton, Stratford and Trumbull, towns to the north and east of Bridgeport.

McGorty’s bill would require the commissioners of the Departments of Consumer Protection and Economic and Community Development to issue a request for proposals from “a person, business organization or Indian tribe to develop, manage and operate a casino gaming facility in the state.”

It also would “repeal authority of MMCT Venture, LLC, to operate a casino gaming facility in the state.”

MMCT Venture is the partnership the Mashantuckets and the Mohegans — respective owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun — formed in 2015 to pursue a third Connecticut casino to compete against MGM Springfield, the nearly 270 million dollars in recent fiscal years. The state projects that the share will fall to $248.6 million in the current fiscal year and continue to decline thereafter. If another operator is authorized to open a casino, the tribes would be freed of their revenue-sharing obligations.

France said McGorty’s proposal has been “robustly debated” in recent years.

“MGM and the tribes have made their case and the legislature has spoken,” he said. “I’m not aware of anything that’s changed.”

France, along with other members of the legislature’s southeastern delegation, has co-sponsored a bill submitted by Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, that seeks to facilitate the tribes’ East Windsor project, which has been stymied by the federal government’s failure to act on the Mashantuckets’ amended gaming agreement with the state.

Messages left with a McGorty spokesman were not returned.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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