Public Safety and Security Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE REGULATION OF GAMING AND THE AUTHORIZATION OF A CASINO GAMING FACILITY IN THE STATE.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Public Safety and Security Committee
REASONS FOR BILL:
To authorize MMCT to operate an off-reservation casino in East Windsor. This cannot be authorized until the following conditions outlined in the bill are met:
1. The Governor and the tribes enter into an amendment to the state-tribal compacts and MOU's concerning the operation of an off-reservation casino, which must include a provision that the authorization of MMCT to operate and off-reservation casino does not terminate the moratorium agreement against slot operation on the tribes reservations.
2. An amendment to the tribal compacts is agreed to by the Governor, approved by the Legislature and the U.S. Department of Interior.
3. The tribes must waive sovereign immunity with respect to any action brought by or against the State concerning the off-reservation casino and agree to bring such action against the State to the Superior Court.
4. The authorization for the casino applies to the MMCT Venture and it must remain a limited liability company owned exclusively by the tribes in which each tribe holds at least 25% equity interest in MMCT or the authorization would be void.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Jonathan Harris, Commissioner of Consumer Affairs. Shares concerns for the bill but will defer to the Attorney General's forth coming opinion.
Attorney General George Jepsen. The risks to authorizing a casino gaming facility operated by an entity jointly owned by the MPTN and Mohegan are not unsubstantial and cannot be mitigated with confidence.
The Board of Selectmen, Town of East Windsor. The town has worked closely with both entities and having done due diligence supports the development partnership. This is an opportunity to provide economic development and growth.
Neil M. O'Leary Mayor of Waterbury. I am here to ask for support for a different commercial casino process. We need one that guarantees a bare minimum and a chosen developer will have to guarantee the state a minimum payment of $50 million per year.
Bob Maynard, First Selectman of the Town of East Windsor. The state of Connecticut will gain tens of millions in tax revenue that would otherwise be lost if this gaming and entertainment facility were not built. Having studied the impact of a casino the annual impact payment will more than mitigate and impact on the community.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Senator Paul Formica. I am in favor of the bill having lived and owned a business in southeastern Connecticut I saw firsthand economic growth with the present casino resort properties. With another border casino the state has the potential to lose tens of millions annually but the establishment of a satellite casino will help stabilize jobs around the state.
Senator Cathy Osten. Both Foxwoods and Mohegan are in my districts and I am fully in support of them as business partners and an invaluable part of our tourism economy.
This bill establishes a transparent and through process under which we can authorize additional gaming. It is vital that we protect our state's economy and that we grow jobs.
James Bourque, UAW. As a 25 year employee of Foxwoods and a trustee of UAW Local Union 2121 I support this bill. I have been to several hearings and consider myself highly trained, proficient and skilled at my trade. We will be working together because we know Connecticut Jobs Matter.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. As part of MMC Ventures we are proud to support this bill. The town of East Windsor will receive $8.5 million annually and allow our two tribes to preserve Connecticut jobs and revenue.
Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. Groundbreaking by MGM miles from the Connecticut border demands a strategic response. The Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket-Pequot's are excellent neighbors and we have shared the tribe's success for over 20 years. We are called upon to ensure that two of our largest and most successful employers have an opportunity to preserve and protect their enterprise.
Julie Kushner, Director, UAW Region 9A. Thank you for raising this bill and allowing the joint venture of Connecticut's two tribes. With increase competition from neighboring states it is imperative for Connecticut to act quickly to retain both direct and indirect casino business and jobs.
Chief Edward DeMarco, Jr, East Windsor Police Department. As a professional and community-committed police officer for 28 ½ years and having constructed a long-term mitigation plan I feel the East Windsor Police Department will be able to execute a comprehensive public safety plan that will cover both the community and all aspects of the casino/entertainment development and operations.
Detective Sergeant Matthew Carl, East Windsor Police Union. The union supports the bill. As drafted the bill would regulate the operations of the gaming facility. Our union formally announced its support and feel strongly that a casino will be positive for East Windsor.
Greater Hartford-New Britain Building & Construction Trades Council. We stand in support of the bill. The bill will bring in much needed revenue, permanent jobs and because of the Project Labor Agreement local construction workers will used on this job and making a living wage with benefits.
Ed Terris. As President of Copy Cats Printing and Copying in New London I support the bill. We are proud to serve both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods and have been able to grow our small business despite pressures from the “big box” stores. Our region has benefited greatly and their employees buy goods and services in our area.
Anthony Ravosa Jr, Managing Member, Silver Lane Partners. In general we support the bill but with one exception and that is where it is located. We feel the bill is premature.
Paul Anderson. I fully support this bill. East Windsor needs this development and it will provide many jobs and be a plus to our existing local businesses.
John Laurate, IBEW Local 35. The IBEW represents nearly 3000 licensed electrical journeymen and apprentices and they need this casino. Both the Mashantucket Pequot's and the Mohegan's have proven their commitment to long standing relationships with their partners and we expect this partnership will continue.
John Pearson. As a lifelong resident and a 20 year employee of Mohegan I believe this bill will accomplish a very important goal. This bill will preserve jobs and save needed state revenue.
Roberta James-Brown. I support this bill having worked at Foxwood since 1998. I started on the front line and have worked my way up to a position that assists employees and I serve as an advocate for team members. Negative comments are both rude and insulting. We need to help the Casinos in their request to remain competitive.
William Lynn, Business Manager of the International Union of Operation Engineers, We at Local 30 support the bill with over 4000 operating engineers. Gaming competition from neighboring states represents a threat to the workers at Foxwoods and Mohegan.
This casino will lead to good jobs in East Windsor and protect workers at Foxwoods and Mohegan.
Keith Yagaloff. As a resident of East Windsor I would like to see approval of the bill. My law offices are located in South Windsor and I have hundreds of clients from the surrounding communities and have become knowledgeable about the demographics of this part of the state. It is beautiful and rural but our economy is stagnate and this casino will help.
Steve Smith, East Windsor Board of Finance. The town of East Windsor is open for business. We have the access, the commercial property and the infrastructure to support a third casino.
David Roche, President of the Connecticut State building Construction Trades Council. This bill will be an economic boost to the state and will supply many jobs. This opportunity is important to our Connecticut Workers.
Victoria Kania owner Merlot on the Water, East Windsor. I give my highest support to the proposed casino. My family and I are personally invested in the town having owned various commercial and residential properties and running three separate businesses with in town lines. This is what THE STATE NEEDS.
Pete Carroll, President , Fairfield County Building and Construction Trades Council. I support a competitive process for the development of a third casino. We represent 2500 members throughout 23 towns in Connecticut. We do believe that the current process will not maximize the number of jobs for Connecticut workers and there are several problems with MMCT's process for selecting a site.
Fran Becher. I am in favor of the gaming facility proposal. The Mashantucket Pequot's and the Mohegan's are excellent contributors to the state and their establishments have added to our tourism market place.
East Windsor Economic Development Commission. We are excited that the MMCT chose East Windsor. We look forward to working with the new Casino Group and helping our town business and developing policies to make East Windsor a great place for development.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Senator John Kissel. I understand both sides but if we jointly allow two federally recognized tribes to develop a casino there could be some serious legal ramifications.
Representative Juan Candelaria. I have great concerns with both bills should they exclude Sportech employees. I encourage my colleagues to bring companies like Sportech into the discussion to compete with MGM.
Representative Scott A. Storms. Connecticut has been placed at a crossroad and area at a defining moment. Precedent will be set for future gaming establishments and we should carefully craft the approval process that is used now and in the future.
Representatives Christopher Rosario and Representative Ezequiel Santiago. The time has come for a re-set on this issue. We need to go back to put in place an open, transparent, accountable and competitive process, where the state and public will be able to evaluate competing proposals.
Ken Salazar, Former U.S. Interior Secretary. The Tribes' course of action in connection with the bill could present substantial risks to the State and the Committee.
Lawrence Jensen, Former Chief Legal Counsel, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. I testify on behalf of MGM Resorts. Submitting the proposed compact amendments to the Interior Department could be a high-stakes gamble and the State could end up losing millions of dollars in annual revenue from Indian gaming.
Chief Richard Velky's, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. Our position is consistent and clear – if there is to be a commercial casino in Connecticut the best deal for the citizens is a fair and transparent process.
Nicholas S. Perna PhD. The legislation passed in 2015 falls seriously short of meeting the criteria for developing the first commercial casino in the state.
Sportech. For the best interests of the hundreds of individuals that we employee and the revenue we generate we need to be included in the process for expanding gaming in the state. The MGM Springfield casino will greatly impact our business but the creation of a casino in East Windsor will adversely impact our off-track betting and food and beverage operations in Windsor Locks, Hartford, New Britain and Manchester.
Uri Clinton, MGM Resorts International. We oppose the bill because it would place the current tribal payments at risk. The legislature should amend the Competitive Bid Bill to include market-based economic drivers.
The Innovation Group. If the primary goal of the third Casino is to recapture and protect jobs lost to new casinos in Massachusetts and New York then the document by Pyramid Associates does not offer complete information for achieving that goal
Bob Proto, President Unite Here Local 35. We represent over 8000 workers and the no-bid right to develop a convenience casino this bill only promises to replace handful of the predicted job losses due to commercial gaming in neighboring states.
John Armstrong. I hear echoes of disaster. Casino failures are not uncommon and have required state intervention. The Pequot tribe is a questionable partner because its primary asset is floundering as explained in its Annual Report.
Robert Steele. This would increase gambling addition, debt, bankruptcies, broken families and crime. A convenience casino would do nothing to attract out-of-state money and the result would be the tax revenue that would be produced would be the gambling losses of Connecticut residents.
Catholic Bishops of Connecticut. Gambling as such is not immoral but when individuals are drawn into gambling in an excessive way then it becomes morally objectionable. We are strongly opposed to the expansion of casino gambling in Connecticut.
Janice Traczyk. I oppose the bill because there was no referendum allowing taxpayers to vote, we do not have the capacity to support an gambling operation and there is a concern the property values will decrease.
Theresa Saletnik. I am concerned about the traffic the casino will add. This is not a solution to keep money in Connecticut. People will not go to East Windsor if they can drive 10 more minutes to Springfield and have the whole experience
Ian Skoggard. Voting yes for this bill is putting monetary over moral concerns. The temptation to build another casino is strong to add new jobs and new revenue streams however casinos have a detrimental side effect on families.
Paul Robert. I recommend that the State study in depth the need for commercial gaming, the process by which commercial gaming licenses are awarded and which towns and cities should accept such commercial establishments.
Thomas N Kelly. The bill is severely flawed and we should honor our state compact with our tribal partners for them to operate on their designated Tribal Land.
Karen Fischer. Living in New London I have seen the economic costs first hand in my family. My brother-in-law was so in debt because of gambling that he had to declare bankruptcy.
Reverend Ian T. Douglas, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. I have seen firsthand the pain and suffering that has occurred because of gambling addiction. The Episcopal Church in Connecticut has been against the expansion of casino gambling for close to two decades. Games of chance are a moral outrage that preys on the least and most vulnerable in our society.
Maura Beattie-Sergio. I was born and raised in East Windsor and still live in my home from childhood I am concerned about property values.
Lisa Madsen. As a resident of the Broad Brook section and having attended Bob Steele's meeting I am concerned with the challenges as a result of a new casino.
Michelle Murdrick. Legislative Advocate for the Connecticut Conference, United Church of Christ. Our Coalition is a group of 14 faith communities who have joined together to oppose the legalization of off reservation commercial casino gambling.
Reverend Denise Terry. My community is only 8 miles from the site and I am concerned with the economic impact to the community, lofty promises made to the residents and the social costs.
Patricia Lang. March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month and we are adding to the problem. We are trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and mentally ill, as compulsive gambling is considered a mental illness by the Connecticut State Mental Health Services.
Connecticut Council of Small Towns. With approximately 110 towns in our organization and the potential impact on those towns we urge lawmakers to be cautious about moving forward with any legislation that may invalidate the existing compact.
Reported by: Pamela Bianca