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Tribal casino bill faces challenges despite Senate passage

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The state Senate passed a bill early Wednesday allowing a new satellite casino to be built by two Native American tribes in East Windsor, but it's doubtful it will clear the House.  Majority Leader Matt Ritter confirmed Wednesday that the bill cannot pass the House in its current form.

Some lawmakers want to create a competitive process for a potentially lucrative state casino license that would allow other entities to develop a casino. Others oppose expanded gambling in general. And there are legislators who want some assurances that off-track betting facilities in their districts will be protected with the prospect of increased competition.

MGM is suing Connecticut over the current process, claiming it's unfair to outside casino developers to grant exclusive casino rights to the two tribes.  The company has expressed interest in opening a casino in southwestern Connecticut to capture the New York City market.

On Wednesday, the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, which wants to open its own casino, announced it "will have no alternative" but to sue the state if the legislation allowing the two federally recognized tribes to open the $200 million-to-$300 million East Windsor facility prevails.

Governor Dannel Malloy, who has not pushed for casino expansion, has said he's now inclined to support the tribal casino bill over an open bidding process.