The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes will be holding two community conversations this week to discuss their desire to build a casino in either East Windsor or Windsor Locks.
Both towns are considered finalists in the tribes’ search for a place to build a third casino. The tribes, which formed a joint business venture in 2015 to build a casino to compete with the one MGM is building in Springfield, Mass., are expected to bring their final decision to the General Assembly later this year for approval.
The General Assembly and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has remained largely neutral in discussions about gaming expansion, would then need to give their approval of the location.
The tribes are still considering Bradley International Airport and the Thrall Tobacco Farm site on Old County Road as locations for a casino in Windsor Locks, while the site of the old Showcase Cinemas in East Windsor is also in the running.
The tribes will be at East Windsor Middle School at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, and Windsor Locks High School at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 to hear about any concerns.
“We’re not coming to this meeting with fancy renderings or a signed agreement,” Mohegan Tribal Council Chairman Kevin Brown said. “We want to be good neighbors, and a huge part of that is engaging local residents to hear their concerns and answer their questions.”
Brown said it will also give them a chance to “clearly outline the positive elements we want to bring to the community, like the good paying jobs with good benefits that are so in need right now.”
The Office of Fiscal Analysis concluded in October 2016 that Connecticut could lose $68.3 million in revenue once MGM Resorts International opens its casino in Springfield in 2018.
The tribes say if Connecticut does nothing, the state stands to lose more than 9,000 jobs, according to a study commissioned by the tribes.
No matter what happens, the construction of a new casino off tribal land is expected to result in a lawsuit against the state.
MGM Resorts International has already sued the state claiming its decision to only let the two federally-recognized tribes bid on a third casino violated the Commerce and the Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
In July 2016, U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson ruled that MGM failed to “adequately allege an injury” from the special act that allows the state’s two Indian tribes to form a special business entity and negotiate casino development with a town. Thompson said that because any injury to MGM is “purely speculative” the company doesn’t have legal standing to sue. MGM appealed the ruling to the U.S. Second Circuit District Court in New York. Oral arguments on the appeal were heard last November and no decision has been issued.