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Conn. Legislature Holds Hearing On Gambling Expansion

Pat Eaton-Robb
Ray Pineault, foreground, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun, sits beside Mashantucket Pequot tribal chairman Rodney Butler as he testifies before the General Assembly's Public Safety and Security Committee, Tuesday, at the Capitol in Hartford.

The owners of Connecticut’s two Indian tribal casinos are again warning lawmakers that the state could lose up to $250 million a year in slot machine revenue payments if it breaks their exclusive gaming compact.

The warning came during a Public Safety committee hearing on bills that would allow the state to request for proposals to open up casino gaming to commercial competition and sports betting regulation.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns the Foxwoods Resort Casino, said such a move would violate the state’s 25-year-old exclusive gaming compact with his tribe and the Mohegan tribe, which owns the Mohegan Sun casino.

“I ask any of you to go home tonight and ask your partner if it’s okay for you to go test the waters, play the field a little bit, go on a singles cruise and play the field out there. See if you can get a better house, or cuter dog or better kids and see what your partner says to you. It’s going to be a very expensive conversation [laughter].”

Butler was responding to co-chair of the committee, Representative Joe Verrengia of West Hartford. Verrengia supports sport betting and the expansion of commercial casinos – particularly in Bridgeport.

That’s a bill that’s being pushed by MGM Resorts International, who own a rival casino just across the border in Springfield, Massachusetts.  

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.
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