One tribal nation in Connecticut says there's a $3.8 billion casino gaming market in southwestern Connecticut.
The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation released the results of an economic impact study conducted last year.
It said the study also showed that between Hartford and Springfield, MA, where the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes are looking to build a third Connecticut casino, is worth less than $1 billion.
“This economic impact study clearly shows the tremendous value and potential for a third casino in Southwestern Connecticut, which would be immediately accessible to the tri-state area of Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island, is a market with an estimated gross gaming revenue of $3.8 billion, roughly five times the value of the area between Hartford and Springfield where [a] scaled down slot-house casino is being considered," said Chief Richard Velky, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. "A casino in southwestern Connecticut would create thousands of jobs where they are needed the most and would offer a high-quality gaming operation within the proximity of a much more populated area, as opposed to a smaller venue made up merely of slot machines and table operations in a much more limited market."
The study was conducted by Strategic Market Advisors.
A spot for the third gaming facility has yet to be determined.
The Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes have been searching for a location in an effort to prevent potential gaming revenue and jobs from escaping to an MGM casino being built in Springfield, MA.
Two locations are being considered, and it may come down to where the tribes don't need to get voter approval.
"I would be livid if we don't get the chance to say yes or no, if we want this for us,” said Brianna Stronk, who is against more casinos.
She lives in East Windsor, which could be the site for a third casino. She has been concerned about increased traffic and crime, but may not have a choice.
East Windsor doesn't require a referendum.
"We are here to tell legislators we have a model, we are going to make a selection. We are going to build a casino,” said Kevin Brown, chairman of the Mohegan Tribe.
The tribes say a third casino would protect more than 700 million in revenue and 9,000 jobs.
"Particularly at Foxwoods, a lot of business comes from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. At one point we had 12,000 jobs, now about 6,500,” said Felix Rappaport, of Mashantucket Pequots.
State Senator Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield) is skeptical about how much money another casino would actually generate and worries about the damage.
"When people understand the devastation this leaves behind, when community leaders on the ground are picking up broken lives, people will see this is not the pathway,” Hwang said.
As of now, East Windsor and Windsor Locks are the two finalists. Windsor Locks plans to let people vote.
"If East Windsor is the town, then we will re-locate,” Stronk said.
There are some lawmakers who feel a referendum is necessary. A new bill has been introduced to require one.
A decision on a location could come next week, but the legislature would have to approve any site.
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