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Casino Bill Passes Connecticut Senate, But Faces Hurdles In The House

Gene J. Puskar

The Connecticut State Senate passed a bill early on Wednesday allowing a new satellite casino to be built by two Native American tribes in East Windsor. It passed by a vote of 24 to 12. But it's doubtful the bill in its current form will win approval in the House of Representatives.

At a state Capitol news briefing, Connecticut House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, a Berlin Democrat, and Majority Leader Matt Ritter, a Hartford Democrat, reacted to the Senate passage of the casino expansion bill.


“We are playing our cards a little bit differently, no pun intended. We need to do what’s best for the state of Connecticut. And if expanded gambling is it, we need to ensure that we are providing budgetary relief to those residents…and this is not meant to be disrespectful to anybody or presumptuous, the bill that passed the State Senate cannot pass the House as currently written.”

The legislative leaders say that’s because some lawmakers in the House would like to create a competitive process for what they consider to be a potentially lucrative state casino license. They say Connecticut could charge as much as $100 million, considering the state is facing a $2 billion budget deficit. There are also some legislators who want assurances that off-track betting facilities in their districts will be protected with the prospect of increased competition.

Connecticut’s two federally recognized tribes, the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans, want to build the East Windsor facility to compete with a $950 million casino being built by MGM in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts.

Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, who hasn’t pushed for casino expansion, has said he's inclined to support the tribal casino bill.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.