The prospect of a third casino in Connecticut took one step closer to reality on Feb. 25, when East Windsor’s Board of Selectmen voted 4-0 to accept terms of a development agreement with MMCT Venture LLC, the partnership formed between the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes.
The selectmen approved MMCT’s offer of a $3 million initial payment, plus $3 million per year and a percentage of the revenue from slot machines. MMCT said it believes the project, which still must be approved by the state, could generate about $8 million per year for East Windsor, and that it would result in about 1,700 construction jobs as well as roughly the same number of permanent positions when completed.
Still in the running is Windsor Locks, which needs to hold a townwide referendum on the subject before it can move forward. The East Windsor location was the home of Showcase Cinemas alongside Route 91, while the Windsor Locks site is a former tobacco field near Bradley International Airport.
The Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes, which respectively own Connecticut’s Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, are looking to build a third casino to compete with the $950 million Springfield MGM Grand project now under construction in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. Construction there is expected to be completed in 2018.
Meanwhile, the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation in Kent, which has made a number of efforts at securing its own casino dating back to the 1980s, commissioned a study by Strategic Market Advisors of Portsmouth, N.H., which estimates that the southwestern Connecticut gaming market is worth $3.8 billion per year – while the Greater Hartford market is worth less than $1 billion.
“This would not be good news for the taxpayers of the State of Connecticut –an open and competitive process, which included Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, would bring far more benefit for the state in terms of jobs and tax revenues,” Chief Richard Velky of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation said in the wake of the East Windsor vote.
State Sen. Tony Hwang recently told the Business Journal that he was opposed to a third casino being built anywhere in the state. “This is a Fairfield County issue because it’s something that impacts all of our communities,” Hwang said.