Deal is struck: House to authorize tribes' East Windsor casino

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The House of Representatives interrupted debate Wednesday on the bill after one lawmaker tried to amend the measure with an abortion-related proposal.

Wednesday's early morning vote came less than 23 hours before the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn its regular legislative session. The bill previously passed the Senate and now heads to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's desk. The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate before the session adjourns at midnight Wednesday. The bill cleared the House of Representatives on a 103-46 vote. The so-called "satellite casino" which development had been put under consideration was aimed to be located between Hartford and Springfield as a worthy competitor of the MGM Springfield gaming resort that is planned to be officially opened in 2018.

The two tribes already operate casinos on tribal land in southeastern CT. MGM Resorts announced that it would contest the casino's approval in an US District Court, arguing that Connecticut's Legislature had violated key Constitution clauses by denying outside operators the opportunity to apply for what would be the state's first commercial casino license.

Connecticut House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (ehr-eh-SIM'-oh-wits) says a tentative deal has been reached that could ultimately lead to a new tribal casino.

Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown said families of casino workers at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun were "breathing a sigh of relief" that the legislation passed.

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"Our state has a longstanding partnership and compact with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal nations who employ thousands of CT residents in their casinos". The tribes say not doing this is a big gamble with thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in state revenue.

The tribes are also expected to make a $30 million payment to the state for the ability to operate the casino.

Sportech, which runs off-track betting facilities in CT, says it's anxious about how the MGM casino will impact its venues in Windsor Locks, Manchester, Hartford and New Britain "without any remedies to protect our employees".

MGM vowed to continue its fight, turning from the legislature to federal court where it already has a lawsuit challenging a 2015 statute that set up a two-step process for casino expansion.

MMCT, the tribes' joint venture, says the new 200,000 square-foot casino would feature 2,000 slot machines and between 50 and 150 table games, but would have no hotel or other features of a major resort.