February 27, 2017

Tribes pick East Windsor to host third casino

The Showcase Cinemas site in East Windsor has been chosen as the site for Connecticut's proposed third casino.
HBJ File Photo
PHOTO | Contributed
Aerial view of East Windsor proposed third casino site

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes on Monday said they have selected East Windsor as the site for Connecticut's proposed third casino.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, and Kevin Brown, chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, who together comprise MMCT Venture, described the proposed casino as both an entertainment and gaming facility. In choosing East Windsor, they are rejecting two potential sites in Windsor Locks, one at Bradley International Airport and the other at the Thrall tobacco farm near I-91.

Butler said East Windsor has shown, through its selectmen's recent unanimous vote on a proposed development agreement on Saturday, that the town is "eager to have us." The site is at the former Showcase Cinemas.

That development agreement states that MMCT will pay the town $3 million no later than 15 months before the casino opens, as well as $3 million annually in addition to regular tax payments expected to total about $5.5. million a year.

MMCT has committed to use of union labor for construction of the facility, the tribes said. About 75 percent of the permanent positions at the new casino will be full time.

MMCT also said that no less than 4 percent of the casino workforce will be made up of East Windsor residents, and no less than 15 percent of employees will live within a 25-mile radius of the facility. The tribes will host two job fairs in East Windsor.

Reached after the announcement, Windsor Locks First Selectman J. Christopher Kervick said the tribes informed him that the reason his town wasn't chosen was because a number of municipal officials, particularly on the Board of Finance, did not support the concept.

Earlier in the day selectmen had set a special meeting for Tuesday, which had included setting a referendum on a proposed agreement with Windsor Locks.

"We wish our friends in East Windsor well," Kervick said. "I've always thought a decision with this much community impact should be decided by the whole community and my biggest regret is that the people of Windsor Locks will not get the chance to be heard."

He added that Windsor Locks had a verbal agreement with East Windsor officials he hoped would be honored regarding local job preferences.

A signing ceremony to mark the site selection will be held soon, the tribes said.

State lawmakers still must give final approval to allow a third casino in Connecticut.

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