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Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes endorse bill to increase funds for Connecticut towns

Jessica Hill
/
AP

A bill that would nearly triple the funding Connecticut towns receive from tribal gaming revenues has moved forward in the state Legislature.

The raised bill No. 1213 was introduced to the session in March and seeks to change the requirements for the distribution of funds deposited into the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Fund. The state usually receives 25% of the slot machine revenues from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. The amount of funds from gaming revenue shared with the state would increase with the passage of the bill.

The bill outlines the creation of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Fund, a joint fund with contributions made every year from both tribes. This allows funding money to be allocated to towns directly from the fund, rather than from the state’s general fund.

Together, the tribes would contribute more than $139 million annually towards the fund. If passed, the first contribution will be made in 2026. The funds will then be distributed
by the Office of Policy and Management. Distributions will be made through grants to the state's municipalities.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes both expressed support for the bill in a public hearing in March. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal chairman Rodney Butler and Mohegan Tribe chairman James Gessner, both submitted written testimony to the state's Appropriations Committee.

"In the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect we have worked together — government to government, positioning Mohegan as an industry leader and driver of economic growth — something critical not only to our region, but the entire state," Gessner said.

In previous years, gaming revenue sent to the state was reallocated in the general fund to support other needs. Under the proposed bill, the new structure of the fund would
prohibit any reductions. Any changes in the allocation of funds would require the governor to submit an emergency certification which would need to be approved by a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature.

"As a small sovereign nation, we understand all too well what it takes to run a local government and that every dollar counts when it comes to funding critical programs and services," Butler said. "With the overwhelming bipartisan support from across the state we have received over the years for our economic initiatives, we want to make sure that the state’s municipalities share in the success of our venues."

The bill was endorsed by the state's Appropriations Committee last week with a joint favorable vote. It is expected to be reviewed by the General Assembly for a vote.

Jeniece Roman is a reporter with WSHU, who is interested in writing about Indigenous communities in southern New England and Long Island, New York.