A controversial bill to allow a third casino in Connecticut was approved by a key legislative committee today. The bill received reluctant approval in the General Assembly’s Public Safety and Security Committee after an unfavorable legal opinion by Attorney General George Jepsen earlier this week.
On Monday, Jepsen said a third casino could violate the state’s compact with the tribes that allows Connecticut to get hundreds of millions of dollars in slot machine revenues every year.
State Representative Linda Orange, D-Colchester, acknowledged the ambivalence about the bill. “It’s a much bigger issue than the public safety committee and the General Assembly, and I think it’s very important for us to all realize that and get it out there and keep the conversations going.”
State Senator Steve Cassano, D-Manchester, said despite the uncertainty, lawmakers had to move the bill forward so the state could have a chance to renegotiate the compact, if necessary. They will work out something. They can’t do that unless the bill gets through this step first. We need to move it on today and hope that the resolution is worked out. And if it’s not worked out, there’ll be no bill.”
The Committee also passed another bill that would create an open-bid process for a third casino in Connecticut. This comes after MGM sued Connecticut, saying the state broke the law when it gave the tribes exclusive rights to another casino. The tribes’ bid for a third casino is because MGM is opening a casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, just across the border.