As plans for a casino in East Windsor seem stalled, the state legislature looks to be in for a lengthy debate over the future of gaming once again this session. Lawmakers from Bridgeport and New Haven are once again pushing for an open bidding process for the proposed third casino in the state.
That’s an effort backed by gaming giant MGM, which has proposed a multi-million dollar development in Bridgeport.
Speaking on Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live, Representative Christopher Rosario of Bridgeport said the legislature needs to rethink this issue.
"We need jobs in Bridgeport, we need economic development - serious economic development," he said. "And a casino in Bridgeport - I don't care if it's a casino, I don't care if it's a manufacturing plant - I'm just fighting for the best opportunity for jobs in our city."
But lawmakers already decided last year to award the third casino license to a partnership between the two federally recognized tribal nations in Connecticut, the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots.
State Senator Cathy Osten, who represents southeastern Connecticut, told the show MGM is an unreliable partner for the state.
"MGM has twice come into Connecticut and walked away," she pointed out. "Down in Bridgeport in the '90s, and in Ledyard at Foxwoods, when they walked away to go to Massachusetts. So they've been very clear that they're not here to work with Connecticut. They're against Connecticut jobs."
The tribes are currently suing the Department of the Interior, which has refused to say whether it will approve changes to the revenue sharing agreement they have with the state of Connecticut. But they say they’ll still go ahead with development of a casino in East Windsor -- a ceremony at the site is slated for later this month.
East Windsor First Selectman Robert Maynard said with MGM Springfield coming on line, the time to act is now.
"No matter what is done in southwestern Connecticut, right now the state is losing $5 million a month to the MGM casino, and also there's thousands of jobs involved," he said. "The casino is really a big part of the resurrection of north-central Connecticut, so to lose that would a terrible tragedy."