WNPR

East Windsor Chosen To Host Third Casino

Feb 27, 2017

The partnership of two federally-recognized Indian tribes, which is behind the plan for a commercial casino in Connecticut announced Monday it has chosen East Windsor to host the facility.

The plan calls for redeveloping a former movie theater site off of Interstate 91. East Windsor beat out the other remaining competitor, Windsor Locks.

The Board of Selectmen of East Windsor voted unanimously on Saturday to back the plan, a factor that played into the partnership's decision.

"From the beginning, we’ve said that we want to site our new facility in a town that’s eager to have us," said Rodney Butler, Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in a statement issued Monday. "With the unanimous vote by the Board of Selectman, East Windsor fits that bill, and we're thrilled to enter into a partnership with them."

The tribes have framed the casino as a way to preserve jobs and revenue in Connecticut, in the face of increased competition from surrounding states, particularly Massachusetts. MGM is currently building a new casino in Springfield.

The agreement MMCT struck with East Windsor will pay the town $3 million no later than 15 months before the gaming facility opens. MMCT will also pay the town $3 million annually on top of regular tax payments.

It's estimated those tax payments at about $5.5 million per year.

"It's going to bring jobs to East Windsor and the north central region," said East Windsor First Selectman Bob Maynard. "We want to really help the state in keeping revenue here and keeping jobs here."

He feels his community is largely behind the proposal. "There are some people who are against this in town, but I think it's the minority," he told WNPR. "It would be the people who are concerned about gambling in general, and I can understand their point of view too."

"Because this is zoned for commercial recreation, and right near the highway interchange, we feel that it really won't impact our rural nature at all, and will add to our revenue."

The tribal partnership must now get final legislative approval for their site-specific plan. Last week, the Public Safety Committee heard lengthy arguments about the casino issue, including testimony from MGM and other organization urging them to open up a bidding process for commercial gaming in the state.

The tribes and the town say they will hold a signing ceremony to mark the agreement in the near future.