Another step was taken Thursday night toward creating a third casino in Connecticut.
A bill that creates a process for a new gaming facility cleared the state House of Representatives overnight. The vote was 88 to 55.
The bill is moving quickly. Just last week, the state Senate approved it.
It now heads to Gov. Dannel Malloy's desk for his signature.
If signed, it will allow the tribes that own Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casinos to enter into an agreement with a city or town interested in hosting a casino.
"By passing this bill, what will happen is that there will be an opportunity for the tribes to work to select a town and have that happen, we hope, by the end of this year,” said Sen. Martin Looney, the Senate president.
Lawmakers said they pushed the bill as growing competition from Massachusetts and New York threatened thousands of gaming jobs.
The legislation doesn't guarantee a casino. However, it could lead to the first one to be built on non-tribal land.
“Are we disregarding the will and wishes of the people in this state?” said Sen. Tony Hwang of Fairfield. “[Have] we as legislative leaders forgotten we represent the people?”
Hwang spoke of recent polls in the state where people by a margin of 4 to 1 said they were against the expansion of gambling.
Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler released a statement on the vote.
"We are pleased and grateful to the state House of Representatives for their support of a plan to protect thousands of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods jobs and revenue from out of state competition. This legislation, which we hope will be signed by the governor, will begin a process by the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes to invest millions to identify the best site for a satellite gaming facility in north central Connecticut, and to work with state and federal officials to ensure the state and our two Tribal governments are legally protected."
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