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Connecticut Committee Votes to Draft Conflicting Casino Bills

Connecticut’s Public Safety and Security Committee voted Thursday to draft four bills that are all concerned with expanding gambling in the state

Two conflicting bills regarding the expansion of Connecticut’s casino industry were voted to be drafted on Thursday by members of the state’s Public Safety and Security Committee.

One of the bills aims to scrap a requirement that the state’s two federally recognized tribes must secure federal approval to build jointly a satellite casino in East Windsor. The other will authorize the opening of a bidding process for the development of an integrated resort with a casino facility on the Bridgeport waterfront. The latter piece is spearheaded by Las Vegas hotel and casino operator MGM Resorts International.

Connecticut’s House passed a bill calling for a competitive casino process during last year’s legislative session, but the piece was never debated in the Senate, where the majority supported the East Windsor tribal casino.

At issue is whether the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe should be allowed to build and jointly operate a satellite casino in the north of Connecticut to stop gambling money from leaving the state. Each of the two tribes already operates a casino resort in the state, but they are concerned that the recently launched MGM Springfield in neighboring Massachusetts would hurt their business.

On the other hand, MGM Resorts International, the owner of the Springfield property, is looking to expand in Connecticut, or at least block the development of the East Windsor property. The casino and hospitality giant has been lobbying for several years now for the opening of a competitive process for interested companies to bid for a license for the construction of a full-blown casino resort.

What Is Next for the Two Casino Bills?

Members of the state’s Public Security and Safety Committee voted yesterday to draft separate bills on the tribal satellite casino and the larger casino resort proposals. Each of the two has already gained quite some supporters and opponents, but it is yet to be seen whether any of them will manage to survive through the state Legislature during the ongoing session.

Sen. Tony Hwang said yesterday that even though he voted in favor of drafting both bills, he might vote against each of them in a subsequent committee vote. Sen. Hwang has long been opposed to any form of gambling expansion in the state, citing concerns over the societal impact of a move of this kind.

Rep. Joe Verrengia, Co-Chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee, told the Hartford Courant that a public hearing on the two casino bills would take place on March 12 as the committee is approaching a Match 21 deadline to act on the proposals. He went on to say that his goal is to pass the two pieces of legislation out of the committee so that they reach the full House and Senate floors.

The Public Safety and Security Committee also voted yesterday to draft a bill calling for the legalization of sports betting and one concerned with the legalization of online gambling.

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The post Connecticut Committee Votes to Draft Conflicting Casino Bills appeared first on Casino News Daily.

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