Connecticut House debates but doesn't vote on marijuana bill

Rendering courtesy of MGM

Proponents of legislation that could lead to tolls on Connecticut's highways say they don't have enough votes to pass the bill.

This overall, last-minute pact comes on the eve of the final day of this year's regular legislative session, which ends Wednesday at midnight.

With Gov. Dannel P. Malloy set to the sign the bill, MGM says its battle to keep a competitor off its doorstep now will shift to U.S. District Court, where the Las Vegas gaming giant will argue the legislature violated the Equal Protection and Commerce clauses of the Constitution by refusing to consider other suitors for the state's first commercial gaming license. So they'll have to be approved by the Senate before they can get to the governor's desk for his signature. The proposal previously passed the House of Representatives.

The State of CT missed an enormous opportunity to put in place an open, transparent, and competitive casino process which could have resulted in as much as $1 billion in economic development.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (ehr-eh-SIM'-oh-wits) said the House Democrats will still talk about the issue "as a caucus".

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, based in Kent, has pledged to sue the state if it doesn't open up the possibility of a third casino to outside bids. The Connecticut tribes hope this casino will take away some of MGM's business. The third casino in the region will be operated by the two Indian tribes.




The two-bill package would create an entertainment sharing agreement between the state's two federally recognized tribes, the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan, and several entertainment venues around the state.

Under the bill, the two tribes will be required to pay 25% full-year tax on their gambling revenue.

The so-called sweetener bill is "drastically reduced" from an earlier proposal that would have placed slot machines in off-track betting facilities in Bridgeport, New Haven and Waterbury and allowed Hartford open a table-games casino, Aresimowicz said.

Uri Clinton, MGM's Senior Vice-president, told reporters after the vote, "It's probably the worst example of how to form casino legislation".

MGM has built its opposition to the tribes's casino around a pitch that CT, deep in the throes of a budget crisis, could do better by opening Fairfield County to competition for a casino resort that could appeal to the NY market.

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