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House Speaker: Agreement reached on casino-related bill

08 June 2017

The House of Representatives has wrapped up a limited debate on legislation that would legalize recreational use of marijuana in CT without taking a vote.

The bill also creates a new entertainment sharing agreement between the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes and venues with 5,000 or more seats that would allow them to share in the recruitment of entertainment acts.

The approval of the gambling expansion made a major change in the Connecticut's gambling market, especially considering the fact that a couple of weeks ago local Democratic leaders raised a red flag that they would not be able to gather enough support in order to have the East Windsor casino project approved. "But I think a lot of the research I have done, the meetings I have had across the district, have assured me that this facility would bring a benefit to the Town of East Windsor ultimately". The bill previously passed the Senate and now heads to Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy.

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The MGM Resorts casino that's now under construction in the western MA city of Springfield will likely face competition from another casino just 16 miles away. MGM's new $950m casino is set to open in 2018 and is expected to drive away CT gamblers from their state's tribal casinos. "That's a promise", said Uri Clinton, a senior vice president and legal counsel at MGM. The two tribes already operate casinos on tribal land in southeastern CT. It is to encompass 200,000 square feet, with 2,000 slot machines and 50 to 150 table games.

Support for the tribes was bipartisan: Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, presented the bill to the chamber.

MGM has bankrolled some of the Schaghticokes' earlier efforts to oppose expansion by MMCT. MGM appealed the decision in its suit to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where a decision in pending. The number of available OTB licenses would increase from 18 to 24. Fifteen OTB facilities now exist, including one in New London.

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The legislature's non-partisan analysts declined to predict what impact the new casino might have on state revenues.

The council's membership would include representatives of large entertainment facilities and the casino-owning tribes.

During the evening Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill eliminating promoters' responsibility to pay health care costs incurred by mixed martial arts competitors, a measure expected to boost the sport.

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House Speaker: Agreement reached on casino-related bill