Activists who want no part of a third Connecticut casino spoke their minds on Monday night during a forum.
It was held just days before a hearing on legislation to allow the joint Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes' project to move forward in East Windsor.
Activists said they feel people who live in East Windsor should have more of a choice in whether or not a casino comes to town.
The Coalition Against Casino Expansion focused on the social and economic costs of casinos.
"This is the biggest decision in the whole 200-odd history of East Windsor and the population of East Windsor should have a vote in it," said Denise Terry of the Coalition Against Casino Expansion.
The coalition is calling for a referendum on the casino site.
"A casino such as this a convenience casino preys on the elderly the vulnerable those with a fixed income or low income, and the least availability to lose," Terry said.
East Windsor's board of selectmen already approved a plan to develop the casino.
The tribes promised to give the town $8.5 million in property taxes and money to pay for extra police and fire costs.
They want to build it at a former Showcase Cinemas location just off of Interstate 91.
There are supporters of the casino, like East Windsor Selectman Steve Dearborn.
"East Windsor is a dead town, it's a dead town. We haven't moved anywhere here for years and years and years," Dearborn said.
He argues that the town needs to move fast to ensure the deal goes forward, so a referendum is a non-starter.
He said he believes his constituents need to bet on the board's judgment.
This is all to compete with an MGM resort that's under construction in neighboring Springfield, MA.
"First they paid former Attorney General Eric Holder. Then, they paid Former Senator Joseph Lieberman. Now, they're paying the former Interior Secretary. What does it add up to? That MGM is willing to pay anyone and everyone to stop our project from moving forward because they know our proposal is going to keep jobs and revenue in Connecticut," Andrew Doba, spokesperson for MMCT, the joint tribal venture designed to preserve Connecticut jobs and revenue, said in a statement on Tuesday. "By their own math, 45% of the revenue they hope to get for their billion dollar investment is supposed to come from Connecticut residents. That's not going to happen when our facility opens its doors, and they willing to spend whatever it takes to try and stop us."
The whole project still needs the approval of state lawmakers. Lawmakers have their hearing set for Thursday. On Thursday night, East Windsor's board of selectmen will hold its own forum about the project.
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