The House forwarded legislation Thursday to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that allows two federally-recognized tribes to move forward with plans to build a casino north of Hartford.
The legislation passed the House on an 88-55 vote shortly before midnight. It authorizes the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Tribal Nation to have conversations with host municipalities.
Concerns expressed by Attorney General George Jepsen in an April 15 memo have been largely delayed by the legislation the House approved Thursday.
In a letter to House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, Jepsen said the bill the House passed Thursday “does not authorize casino gaming.”
He went onto to explain that “as a result, it would have no impact on the current agreements between the Tribes and the State of Connecticut and would not increase or otherwise affect the likelihood of the State being obligated under federal law to negotiate gaming compacts with tribes that may gain federal recognition in the future.”
Under the bill, the tribes would have to come back to the General Assembly to get approval to build the casino after choosing a specific location.
East Windsor, Windsor Locks, and East Hartford have expressed interest in hosting a casino.
“This legislation, which we hope will be signed by the Governor, will begin a process by the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes to invest millions to identify the best site for a satellite gaming facility in north central Connecticut, and to work with state and federal officials to ensure the state and our two Tribal governments are legally protected,” Mohegan Chairman Kevin Brown and Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney Butler said in a statement.
The Senate passed the legislation 20-16 last week.
Last week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made it clear that this was not his legislation and he felt the issues Jepsen raised in his April 15 memo were “substantial.”
“What I believe is the legislature can’t name a winner,” Malloy said. “That there has to be a process. I conveyed that previously to the leadership. The legislature shouldn’t be deciding which community should get a casino or not.”
Malloy said he felt the legislation, at least, partially took care of some of the concerns he expressed privately. He said he wouldn’t want to see anyone do anything to jeopardize the relationship the state currently has with the tribes.