The Windsor Town Council became the first community Monday to adopt a resolution in opposition to the expansion of casino gambling.
The resolution, adopted by a unanimous voice vote, seeks to send a message to the two Indian tribes and state lawmakers, who are debating a bill that would allow the two tribes to open up to three new casinos in the state. Two residents spoke in support of the resolution to oppose a local casino, but Windsor Councilman Al Simon believes opposition to gaming in the community is much broader.
“Windsor is a place where people come to get better schools for their kids and have a nice life,” Simon said. Casino gambling “doesn’t fit in.”
Simon said he drafted the resolution because the casino proposal seems to be moving quickly through the General Assembly and he didn’t want the two tribes wasting their time on looking at property in Windsor. He said proponents had mentioned Windsor as a possible location.
Windsor Town Councilman William Herzfeld said he doesn’t believe the state of Connecticut can sustain any more casinos.
“I think this is a foolish venture. I think they will ultimately fail,” Herzfeld said.
Windsor Mayor Donald Trinks said he hasn’t spoken to anybody who thought this would be a good idea for Windsor.
He said the state should follow Windsor’s lead and focus on long-term, sustainable economic development.
But the tribes say it’s about retaining the jobs it has at its two casinos in southeastern Connecticut and stopping gamblers from heading north on I-91, west on I-84, and south on I-95. However, the proposal also faces an uphill battle in the legislature.
“The initial response has been bifurcated,” Mohegan Chairman Kevin Brown said Monday, referring to the legislation. “Folks are either for it, or against it.”
Negotiations with lawmakers continue as municipalities along the I-91 corridor begin to express their interest or lack of interest. The I-91 corridor is the most immediate concern because of the proximity of the new MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts.
But Brown said the tribes are not interested in locating a casino in a town that doesn’t want a casino.
“We have to have a municipality that’s excited about having this opportunity,” Brown said at a press conference Monday afternoon.
Windsor isn’t the only town along the I-91 corridor looking to make a statement about casino expansion.
The Enfield Town Council is also considering a resolution that would make it clear they don’t want a casino in town. Enfield Mayor Scott Kaupin said Tuesday that the resolution will be discussed at its April 20 meeting.
State Rep. Peggy Sayers, who represents both Windsor and Windsor Locks, said Windsor Locks, which also is home to an off-track betting facility and an airport, would be happy to host a casino.
However, she said Windsor Locks would like to see the tribes team up with the OTB. Sayers envisioned expanding the Bradley Teletheater and allowing it to install slot machines.
Sayers said it makes sense since the off-track betting facilities already are licensed by the state. She said Windsor Locks has a history with the off-track betting facility and a relationship. But she did not know if there were any discussions with the two tribes. Thus far, the tribes have not been interested in teaming up with anyone besides each other.