Gov. Ned Lamont’s unexpected pitch to Connecticut’s federally recognized tribes over expanding their gambling interests in the state – including in Bridgeport – is apparently also unwanted.
The governor’s proposal essentially would have required the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations – which operate the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, respectively – to cancel longstanding plans to build a jointly owned, $300 million casino in East Windsor called Tribal Winds. Instead, they would be granted exclusive rights to Connecticut-based internet betting and the go-ahead to build a tribal casino in Bridgeport.
Lamont’s plan came to light a couple of days after state Sen. Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) unveiled the Connecticut Jobs and Revenue Act (CJRA), supported by a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators. That plan – which the tribes voiced support for – would among other things require the tribes to spend a minimum of $100 million toward a $300 million entertainment and gambling facility in Bridgeport.
In return, the tribes would be allowed to conduct sports wagering at their casinos, through mobile applications and online. Sports wagering would be taxed at 8% while internet gambling would be taxed at 10%. The tribes would also pay the state 10% of casino table game revenues. They already pay 25% of their slot machine revenue to the state.
The CJRA – which was crafted without input from Lamont – would also allow the tribes to go forward with Tribal Winds, something that Andrew Doba, spokesman for the tribes’ MMCT joint venture, said was key.
“They are not willing to walk away from the Tribal Winds Casino in East Windsor, a project where they’ve invested nearly $20 million,” Doba said.
According to the Hartford Courant, Lamont’s alternative proposal also involved the tribes acquiring Hartford’s XL Center and developing it as a casino. A spokesperson for the governor denied that the XL Center was part of Lamont’s plan.
Both Lamont’s plan and the CJRA would need approval by the state legislature, which so far has not scheduled hearings on either.