It appears there is little Governor Malloy can do to fight the financial threat facing Connecticut from the legalization of casino gambling in Massachusetts. Bay State casinos and slot parlors are expected to syphon off an estimated $1billion dollars a year from Connecticut. Making up that money won’t be easy according to former U.S. Attorney Stan Twardy, who helped craft the gambling compact with Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes when he was chief of staff to Governor Lowell Weicker.
At first blush, it seems the easy solution to compete with Massachusetts is to expand casino gambling in Connecticut, perhaps allowing casinos in Bridgeport and Hartford, two cities that wanted them in the early 1990s. The argument? If Massachusetts will have four casinos, then Connecticut needs just as many. During a taping of Face the State, Twardy said it isn’t that easy. The deal with the state allows the tribes to have a monopoly on casino gambling, in exchange for handing over 25% of their slot revenue. If the state were to allow new casinos, the large monthly checks made out to the State of Connecticut from Foxwoods and Mohegan would come to an end. Twardy said it was unlikely new casinos could make up the difference. His explanation of this complex deal is worth watching Sunday.
Also joining in the casino discussion is Tony Sheridan, the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut. He acknowledged the Massachusetts casinos will hurt the Connecticut economy, and lead to job losses, but feels people will travel to Foxwoods and Mohegan because he believes the entertainment experience will be better there, than north of the state line. However, Massachusetts has made it quite clear the goal of legalizing casinos is to dissuade Bay Staters from spending their money in our state. Their casinos may pale in comparison to ours when they first open, but in time they will grow and improve, just like Foxwoods and Mohegan have done. Sheridan said it will be up to the two original New England casinos to step up and add more attractions.
UPDATE: Here is the interview that aired on Face the State on December 4th http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6516508