State officials announced this week that the Mohegan Sun and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes have been given approval for online casino gaming and sports betting thanks to a new compact deal in Connecticut. While the deal still needs final approvals from other organizations, it is basically moving forward, which is a positive outcome for the state. However, it does come at a cost. The two Native American tribes must now stop moving forward with a proposed casino or East Windsor. This does not sit well with East Windsor officials.
For years now, the two Connecticut tribes have been working hard to create a new casino in East Windsor, called the Tribal Winds Casino. The project has faced an uphill battle and must now be put on hold for 10 years minimum due to the new compact deal.
According to Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman, and representatives from East Windsor, the idea to do so came from the administration of the governor. Senator M. Saud Anwar is from a district including East Windsor who is disappointed in the change.
The senator was glad that the state was able to reach a gambling agreement with the tribes, but disappointed that the casino is no longer an option right now. Other representatives were shocked at the change as the venue was something that everyone was on board with.
Meeting on the Change
Some lawmakers want answers as to why the East Windsor project was cancelled. A meeting is trying to be scheduled with the governor and delegation involved with East Windsor. The legislators want answers as to why the project was stopped and what the decision-making process was in taking away a project that would have a positive impact on a community. East Windsor has also spent a lot of its own resources to work on the project.
Jason Bowsza, the First Selectman for East Windsor, said that the decision is one that benefits the full state due to iGaming, but negatively affects the economy of East Windsor. The deal with the tribe ties up around 30 acres of commercial property.
If the deal must sit for 10 years before it can even start to become a reality, then this last will remain empty. It could otherwise be used for another development that would benefit the town. Bowsza called the issue a handicap and is hopeful that additional, direct revenues will be provided to East Windsor due to the change.
Mashantucket chairman Butler said that the most difficult part of the deal was the East Windsor project. The tribe was fully invested and committed to the project, so to delay was a difficult part of agreeing to the deal.
The administration reportedly had legal concerns regarding the facility in East Windsor and wanted the legislation voided that allowed the tribes to build the venue. The tribes disagree on that front, but it was something the governor would not budge on.
The compact agreement does not repeal the legislation. However, it requires the tribes to avoid moving on with the project while the sports betting and online casino agreement is valid, which is the 10 year time frame.