For the past few years lawmakers have been reluctant to expand gambling in the state, but the chairman of a key committee said he will sign off on legislation that is expected to allow gambling outside the two tribal casinos.
Rep. Stephen Dargan, D-West Haven, he expects to sign off on a “generic” bill Tuesday that would allow for gambling outside the two casinos in the southeastern portion of the state. The facility would be much smaller than the two tribal casinos and would likely be located along Interstate 91 north of Hartford.
A public hearing on the proposal is expected to be scheduled for March 17.
The Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans are increasingly concerned about the competition with nearby states, especially a casino planned to open in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 2017.
A Northeastern Gaming Research Project report released last week said revenue from the two casinos in the state has declined by 39 percent since peaking in 2006. For Foxwoods, that translates to total revenue in 2014 of $892 million, down from $1.6 billion in 2006. Mohegan Sun Casino brought in $1 billion in 2014 compared to $1.6 billion eight years earlier.
The number of employees at the casinos decreased 37 percent in the same time period, according to the report.
The Senate Democratic leadership will hold a press conference today with tribal leaders to “make a major announcement concerning jobs and the future of gaming in Connecticut.”
The House Democratic leadership is not involved in Tuesday’s press conference, but it’s the first time anyone can remember the two tribes working together on an issue.