Lawmakers held a public hearing Monday on a proposal that could lead to someone else developing a new Connecticut casino besides the federally recognized tribes. The proposed legislation requires state agencies to develop and issue a request for proposals for a business or tribe to develop, manage, operate and maintain a possible casino.
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky testified in support of the bill. The Kent-based tribe wants to open a casino in Western Connecticut. He says during their 300 years of state recognition, there have been broken promises and stolen opportunities, but that this bill gives them a chance to compete on a level playing field.
Velky says this bill gives them a pathway to compete with the two federally recognized tribes.
The General Assembly is considering a Special Act allowing the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to build a satellite casino in East Windsor to compete with a planned Springfield, Massachusetts casino.
Velky says that plan is designed to disrupt MGM, not spur economic growth.
Among other things, the legislation up for a hearing Monday would require a nonrefundable $50 million state licensing fee and agreement to invest not less than $500 million. Velky said this bill finally takes the expansion of gaming seriously.
The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs revoked federal recognition from the Schaghticokes in 2005. At that time, Velky says they had the backing of several casino-minded investors and had already drawn up plans with developers, investors, casino operators and local mayors. Velky says they continue to have the vision and backing to build a casino in southwestern Connecticut.