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Jepsen opinion supports Bridgeport casino

March 15, 2018 GMT

HARTFORD - Attorney General George Jepsen has given a legal green light to a bill that would allow bids for a casino in Bridgeport or elsewhere in the state.

Jepsen said the bill before the Legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee would not cause the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes to cease sending hundreds of millions of dollars in slot machine revenue to the state if adopted.

“It is my opinion that the proposed legislation would not run afoul of our existing agreements with the tribes,” Jepsen said in a statement filed with the committee.

He noted that the tribes would be in violation of the compact — which grant them an exclusive right to offer gambling on their reservation — if they withheld the $250 millio annual payments.

The bill before the committee allows bids for another casino in Connecticut and calls for cancellation of an already authorized casino in East Windsor to be built by the two tribes. That casino is meant to protect the tribes from competition from an MGM Grand casino being built in Springfield, Massachusetts.

MGM has offered to build a multi-million casino on Bridgeport’s waterfront, bringing thousands of jobs to that region.

The East Windsor casino is stalled because the federal Department of Interior has not posted approval for changes to the tribe’s compact with the state on its federal register. Supporters say the interior department approved the casino by not objecting to it. The dispute is now the subject of litigation brought by Jepsen against the interior department.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim told the committee on Thursday that the tribes and MGM Grand could partner in the Bridgeport casino or both casinos could be built — one in Bridgeport and one in East Windsor.

“I don’t know that is necessary,” Ganim said when asked if the Legislature should kill the East Windsor casino.

East Windsor casino supporters firmly oppose the bill. “The bill before the committee crushes the East Windsor casino,” said state Rep. Tim Larson, D-East Hartford.