Slot machine fans in Hartford county may no longer have to trek to southeastern Connecticut to try their luck.
East Windsor has been selected as the town for the state's third gaming facility, which will be a joint venture between the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes. The tribes made their official announcement on Monday.
“Today’s announcement is a critical step towards our goal of saving Connecticut jobs and revenue,” Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, said in a statement on Monday. “We’re honored to have the community of East Windsor by our side as we move forward with bringing our facility to life.”
The East Windsor Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a development agreement on Saturday.
Under the agreement, The town will get $8.5 million with $5.5 million in property taxes and the remaining $3 million to pay for extra police, fire and even education costs in anticipation of an increased population.
“From the beginning, we’ve said that we want to site our new facility in a town that’s eager to have us,” Rodney Butler, Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, said in a statement on Monday. "With the unanimous vote by the Board of Selectmen, East Windsor fits that bill, and we’re thrilled to enter into a partnership with them."
The plan is to convert the old Showcase Cinema right off of Interstate 91 into the multi-million dollar casino destination. The theater has been closed for several years.
"We win because of tax revenue we'll get and jobs. The tribal nation wins because they would they would lose with a casino in Springfield," East Windsor First Selectman Bob Maynard said. "It's a win for all being built in East Windsor."
The tribes had also considered locations in Hartford, Windsor Locks or East Hartford.
East Windsor wasn't required to allow residents to vote in a referendum, which may have worked in their favor since Windsor Locks wasn't going to do this without one. Christopher Kervick, who is the First Selectman in Windsor Locks, said "this is a big issue that should be decided by all of our citizens."
The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes are hoping lawmakers approve the project during this legislative session, which ends in June.
The new casino would be built to compete with an MGM Resorts facility being built just across the state line in Springfield, MA. Supporters also called the plan a means to stop job and tax revenue losses. MGM's facility is slated to open in late 2018.
The casino in East Windsor would be much smaller. It would have slots, gaming tables and entertainment. It's also close to the highway and is a visible location.
"I think they could start building in July and would take 18 months," Maynard said.
The casino in East Windsor is also expected to bring in several jobs.
"MMCT has committed to use of union labor for construction of the facility. And the permanent jobs at the casino will be good paying jobs with good benefits," the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes said in a statement on Monday.
However, not everyone supports the new proposed casino.
"This would not be good news for the taxpayers of the State of Connecticut –an open and competitive process, which included Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, would bring far more benefit for the state in terms of jobs and tax revenues," Chief Richard Velky, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation said in a statement on Monday.
Lawmakers voted last year to allow the tribes to build off tribal land . Some lawmakers were on board while some others were not.
"I know we have a lot of support in the senate because this is a jobs protection bill," state Sen. Tim Larson (D-East Hartford) said.
"Not having a public referendum in east Windsor shows it's a lack of transparency and not just a select few make decision for the community," state Sen Tony Hwang (R- Fairfield) said.
The project still needs approval from the General Assembly.
A signing ceremony will be held in the near future.
Eyewitness News will have more on this story starting at 5 p.m.
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