Hwang to ‘step up’ opposition on casino expansion

Senator Tony Hwang

Sen. Tony Hwang on March 15 issued the following statement after the state legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee voted favorably on legislation to expand casino gambling in the state:

“When Connecticut’s top attorney says the risks regarding casino expansion are ‘not insubstantial’, every state lawmaker should pause. Consider those words and what they could mean. Rolling the dice on casino expansion would put our state at risk for constitutional challenges by MGM or others under the equal protection clause. We would put our current revenue sharing agreement with the tribes at risk. Doubling down on the gambling industry would also ignore the significant and heartbreaking human and societal costs which would arise from addiction. So what happens now? We step up our opposition in this ‘David vs. Goliath’ battle. A diverse coalition of religious and grassroots groups have joined the fight against gambling expansion in Connecticut, and I am proud to stand side-by-side with them. To help us, visit NoMoreCasinosInCT.org.”

Sen. Hwang (SenatorHwang.com) represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport.  He can be reached at [email protected] and at 800-842-1421.

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  • Steve Norton

    Connecticut Legislators were smart to approve a companion casino bill; that would permit a casino on the Western side of the State. A location that would be the closest casino to the million plus residents of Westchester and several other NY counties, and would be closer than any current or proposed NY casino. And if the Legislation were for a commercial, rather than a Tribal operation; there would be no need for Federal approval for “Land in Trust” designation, or a State compact. Those that fear that NY would approve table games for Aqueduct or Yonkers, have to understand that a CT casino near to the NY border, would be much more convenient to Westchester and Orange Co. than Yonkers, and would not have the same traffic concerns of driving South, toward Manhattan.

    And CT could introduce a tax like Pennsylvania’s that would produce State revenues, that should equal or exceed the amount now paid by the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, who pay 25% of their slot win. This $260 million annually, is expected to decline with the MGM Springfield casino. Plus a casino on the Western border, would not have the same impact on Foxwood and Mohegan Sun’s existing casino win, as a 4th casino serving the Greater Hartford market. And a commercial License, could be bid on by the CT Tribes, as well as other gaming operators, possibly providing a large up front fee, like PA.

    The current PA tax rate, I refer to, is 55% on slot win, and 16% on table win; far higher than the current Tribal tax of 25%, only on slot win. And the jobs created at a West CT casino would far exceed the potential jobs at a casino in East Windsor, serving the same market as MGM. and the two existing CT casinos. And I expect the two Tribes will undoubtedly keep much of the Hartford market, because they are only 15 minutes further away, than MGM; and the Tribes offer many more slots and tables, plus more dining and entertainment options, golf, and other attractions; that MGM cannot duplicate.

    And even if the revenue share from the two Tribes, were reduced, they would still need to contribute to nearby communities, that provide various services to the Reservations.

    To accede to the Tribes effort, for a regional casino on I-91, near MGM, puts the issue in the hands of the Federal Government, since any site in the Hartford area, is non Tribal Reservation land, unlike Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. And the Land in Trust process could take years; if opposition arises, like in Taunton, MA. There the Wampanoag Tribe already have a compact with the State, but are still awaiting “Land in Trust” designation from the Feds; a process delayed by various lawsuits. Lawsuits that would be expected, if the CT Legislature, and Governor, were to approve the proposed casino with Mohegan and Foxwoods in East Windsor.

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