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House Oks bill to expand off-track betting

House Oks bill to expand off-track betting

The legislation authorizes the tribal owners of Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun, two of the world's largest gaming resorts, to open a satellite casino off I-91 in East Windsor, a community of 12,000 between Hartford and Springfield that already has approved the project.

It never came back up for a vote before Wednesday's midnight adjournment.

The state is now looking at a projected $5 billion deficit over the upcoming two fiscal years, and leaders from both parties and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy have refrained from increases to income and sales taxes as part of their proposals.

Aresimowicz says the bill allows Sportech to have eight more off-track betting licenses, for a total of 24 locations. If the House approves the bill containing the entertainment agreement, the sports betting deal and a new plan to expand OTB, it will move to the Senate. The Connecticut Mirror reports that the bill passed in a lopsided vote of 103-46.

Some lawmakers, however, preferred opening the process to other casino developers.

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

"I think our focus should be on saving those jobs in Eastern Connecticut and allowing two tribes that have been good partners as along as the town that it's going to be agree with it", Rep. Themis Klarides said during an interview Monday.

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During the almost two-hour debate that started at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, there was an acknowledgement that no matter what happens the state of CT will end up in court because it gave the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations exclusivity over gaming at a facility off tribal land.

The tribes would pay no licensing fee under the bill approved Wednesday, only an annual tax equal to 25 percent of gross revenues from table games and slots.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations crossed the finish line Wednesday on the last day of the General Assembly's annual session, victors in a two-year struggle for authorization to jointly develop a casino to compete with an MGM Resorts International casino under construction in Springfield.

The MGM Resorts casino that's now under construction in the western MA city of Springfield will likely face competition from another casino just 16 miles away.

The Springfield MGM casino is slated to open next year.

The tribes' deal has produced $7 billion for the state since 1993 and is projected to be worth about $260 million this year, but it has been shrinking since hitting a high of $430 million in 2007 and is expected to continue to fall once MGM Springfield opens.

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