Tribes Select East Windsor to Host Entertainment & Gaming Facility

East Windsor town officials on Saturday approved a development agreement between the town and developer MMCT Venture LLC, a move that could lead to a third casino being built in the state, NBC Connecticut reported.

The selectmen approved MMCT's offer of a $3 million initial payment, plus $3 million per year and a percentage of the revenue from slot machines.

"From the beginning, we've said that we want to site our new facility in a town that's eager to have us", said Rodney Butler, Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in a statement issued Monday. Gambling operator MGM Resorts International is now building what would be the $950-million MGM Springfield, a casino resort in the MA city of Springfield.

The agreement emphasizes MMCT's commitment to local hiring practices, stipulating that no less than 4% of the casino workforce will be made up of East Windsor residents, and no less than 15% of employees will live within a 25-mile radius of the facility. Critics, including MGM, say southwestern CT would be a better location.

The state legislature must still back the site, and more importantly, approve the expansion of casino gambling off Connecticut's tribal reservations for the first time. "The only conclusion one could reach after hearing today's comments is that given the unfair terms of the deal, MMCT does not want a referendum because they know this bad deal would be soundly rejected".

The Tribes and the town will hold a signing ceremony on the agreement in the near future.

A third casino is billed as a way to preserve CT jobs tied directly and indirectly to the gambling industry and guard against further erosion of the slot revenue the state receives from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

In January, MMCT ruled out East Hartford and South Windsor, leaving East Windsor and Windsor Locks as finalists.

The selection of a site has stretched out over more than year and through two rounds of proposals.

Connecticut's third casino will be developed and operated by the MMCT Venture business entity, formed by the two tribes.

The MGM project could open in the summer of 2018, which would be slightly ahead of schedule.

But a federal judge dismissed the suit in June of 2016, finding that the law did not exclusively favor the tribes and that MGM had no standing to sue. The payout for the planned third casino has not yet been decided.

  • Larry Hoffman