In Connecticut, residents of the community of East Windsor have reportedly voted against the passage of a proposed local ordinance that could have jeopardized the plan to develop a new tribal-run casino on the site of a former Showcase Cinemas franchise.
According to a report from the local Hartford Courant newspaper, the Thursday ballot was held as part of a special town meeting and saw voters defeat the proposed measure, which would have imposed location restrictions on any potential new casino and subjected the whole plan to a town-wide referendum, by a tally of 198 to 112.
“This is good; now it is up to the legislature to decide,” Robert Maynard, First Selectman for East Windsor, told the newspaper.
February saw leaders in East Windsor sign a deal with MMCT Venture, which is a joint venture of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, to serve as the home of a planned satellite casino. The new aboriginal-run gambling enterprise is planned as a way to counter expected competition from the coming $950 million MGM Springfield, which is expected to open by the end of 2019 only twelve miles from East Windsor in the neighboring state of Massachusetts, and keep jobs and gaming revenues in Connecticut.
However, the whole casino plan needs the approval of state legislators and has faced criticism from Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International, which is behind the MGM Springfield development, and lawmakers worried that opening any such enterprise could jeopardize Hartford’s existing gaming compact with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.
In proposing the local ordinance, East Windsor resident Brianna Stronk told the newspaper that she was simply asking community officials to do “something the town already does plenty of” in “regulating what, where and how certain private and business activities can be carried out”.
“These are all prudent because they are designed to promote the peaceful enjoyment of the town, to protect public health and safety and to preserve the character of the town,” Stronk told the Hartford Courant.
But, East Windsor attorney Joshua Hawks-Ladds reportedly told those assembled that the proposed ordinance should be rejected because it seeks to regulate an industry that has yet to be legally permitted under state laws. He additionally warned that passing the measure could invalidate the community’s earlier agreement with MMCT Venture and prompt legal action “right out of the gate”.
East Windsor resident Angelo Sevarino told the newspaper that the proposed ordinance presupposed that the casino would be “an evil thing” while welcoming the planned gambling enterprise as a way to redevelop a site that has sat empty since 2008.
“I am sick and tired of looking at the vacant property where the cinema property is,” Sevarino told the Hartford Courant. “It does nothing for us.”