The state Senate in Connecticut has approved a new satellite casino to be built in East Windsor by a joint partnership of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes. The measure passed 24-12 early Wednesday morning, marking a big step in a potential expansion of gambling in the state.
The bill still requires approval by the state House of Representatives and Governor Dannel Malloy, although the governor has indicated he will sign it if it comes to his desk.
Supporters say it would create more than 1,200 permanent jobs, and save thousands more in southeastern Connecticut by safeguarding revenue at the tribes' existing casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.
Opponents argue the state is risking a potential legal problem by granting a monopoly on gambling to Native American tribes on non-tribal land. Gaming giant MGM has also argued Connecticut could net more revenue by opening up the bidding process on a third casino to outside entities.
MGM is in the process of building a casino in Springfield, just over the Massachusetts line, and the tribes hope an East Windsor casino will help Connecticut compete with that facility.
Senators crossed party lines to vote for the measure, with both Democrats and Republicans supporting and opposing the bill.
The news was welcomed by the tribal partnership. Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney Butler said in a statement that he is, "increasingly optimistic that our state’s leaders will rally around our employees like they’ve done for Sikorsky and Pratt and Whitney.”
Other tribes were less enthusiastic. The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation announced it will revive a lawsuit against the state if it goes ahead with a closed process for casino expansion.