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Efforts by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Mohegan Tribal Gamin Authority to select a location for what would be Connecticut’s third casino have resulted in the elimination of three municipalities, with the choices being narrowed to include East Windsor and Windsor Locks, according to the Hartford Courant.
After extending the application deadline in September to accommodate the growing number of municipalities that have shown interest in garnering the right to host a possible third casino in the state, the tribes announced on Friday, the elimination of three municipalities from consideration; South Windsor, Hartford, and East Hartford.
MMCT Venture is the joint effort by the owners of Connecticut’s two tribal casinos; Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino. The unlikely and historic alliance between the competing tribes formed in an attempt to keep gambling dollars in the state, rather than lose jobs and revenue to MGM Resorts International‘s $950 million Springfield casino slated to open in 2018 near the Connecticut, Massachusetts border. MMCT began its search on October 1, 2015 with the deadline for choosing a location being December 8 last year. However, the chairmen of the tribes that run Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun casinos said in November last year that the decision deadline can be flexible.
Site proposals by East Windsor and Windsor Locks, which includes Bradley International Airport, were first submitted in November 2015. Evaluations by the tribes include the economic impact of each site proposal received. Once MMCT Venture chooses a site location, a third casino must still be approved by the legislature, along with the expansion of commercial casino gambling beyond federal tribal reservations. Proponents of the casino planned on seeking approval last year, however, MMCT said at the time it needed more time to decide.
MGM spokesman Bernard Kavaler said, “The fact that we are where we are speaks volumes about the process or lack of process,” and, “This really gets to the process: it’s a sham. It’s being run by the tribes for the tribes, not the taxpayers. Instead of having a very public process that is competitive, fair, reliable and transparent, everyone seems to be waiting for an announceent from the tribes for what they want to do next,” according to the news agency.
MGM filed a lawsuit in August 2015 arguing that newly-passed laws in Connecticut that allow the tribes to pursue a new casino project are unconstitutional and they eliminate any opportunity MGM, or anyone else, has to compete fairly with the tribes.
MMCT officials said on Friday that additional time was needed to conduct an “exhaustive review” of the sites proposals for Windsor Locks and East Windsor. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chairman Rodney Butler, said, “After a detailed economic analysis, we’ve determined that East Windsor and Windsor Locks align best with our development models and preserved more jobs and revenue for the state,” and, “Ultimately, wherever we build this facility, we are committed to be excellent neighbors, dedicated to helping the Capitol Region succeed,” according to the report.
While the release on Friday failed to identify the specific locations that are now being considered by MMCT, East Windsor, which was initially eliminated in the first round, proposed Wal-Mart and Showcase Cinemas located along I-91 in its second attempt. In Windsor Locks, property was proposed that contains Bobby V’s Restaurant and Sports Bar and an off-track betting parlor as a location.
MMCT initially said that it wanted the satellite casino opened prior to the opening of MGM Springfield, however, with that expected by the end of next year, it’s not likely to happen. On Friday, MMCT said forums will be held in East Windsor and Windsor Locks for public comment, with details to be released “in the coming weeks,” as reported by the news agency.