E. Windsor casino demolition begins amid project uncertainty

BY Gregory Seay

Rendering | Contributed
Rendering | Contributed
MMCT's proposed East Windsor casino
East Windsor's planned casino will hire at least 650 workers -- half from Hartford, the developers said Monday, the same day demolition began on the former Showcase Theater.

But before that hiring can begin, MMCT Venture, the joint venture of Connecticut's Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes, still needs federal approval to open the state's first commercial casino.

MMCT is in a legal spat with the federal Interior Department, which has failed to approve their gaming agreements with Connecticut and clear the way for them to jointly develop the East Windsor gaming center.

MMCT sued the Interior Department last November to hurry along the approval process, which some have said has been delayed over politics. The Interior Department tried to get the suit dismissed in February.

That's occurring as state lawmakers are considering proposed legislation that would re-open competitive bidding for a new casino, something that MGM Resorts International has lobbied for intensely as it seeks to open a casino in Bridgeport. MGM is also scheduled to debut later this year a new casino in Springfield, Mass., that is expected to siphon off business from Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resorts Casino.

Despite that, the two Connecticut tribes started demolition on their third casino location, which they said would take about six weeks to complete.

The $300 million to $400 million casino would open about 20 months after construction begins, a spokeswoman said, but an overall project timeline is unknown at this time.

During construction, about 2,000 workers will be employed, MMCT officials said.

"We've said from the beginning that our project will benefit the region," said Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chair Rodney Butler. "Today, we're making a commitment to jobs for people throughout the Greater Hartford region."