The United States Department of the Interior has finally approved a joint Tribal casino in East Windsor, Connecticut, near the Massachusetts border. Tribal Winds is shovel-ready. Following the issue of a building permit, which may take a few months, construction will commence, and the casino resort will open its doors 18-24 months later, Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot officials state.
Construction alone is expected to create at least 2,000 jobs. Once casino doors are open, Tribal Winds will provide employment for more than 3,000 people, with priority given to area residents. Once operational, the casino will pay $8.5 million in taxes to East Windsor, and additionally send $750,000 in new revenue to neighboring towns and some distressed municipalities.
“This is going to lift all of north central Connecticut,” Robert Maynard, first selectman of East Windsor, told masslive.com.
The Tribes have also emphasized their interest in hiring locally. “In the ramp up to our grand opening, we’re going to rely on hundreds of local venders to service Tribal Winds,” the casino website states.
Nearly two years ago, Connecticut lawmakers ratified amendments to the Tribal-state compacts, but the Interior denied the Tribes’ proposal. Following an ethics investigation into former Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Interior has reversed its course.
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The greenlighted agreements give the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation the exclusive rights to operate slots in Eastern Connecticut. The exchange? They’ll funnel 25 percent of their proceeds — an estimated $250 million annually.
The Mohegan Tribe, owners of Mohegan Sun, and the Mashantucket Pequot, who own Foxwoods Resort Casino, anticipate their East Windsor casino may intercept travelers headed to the $960-million MGM Springfield in nearby Massachusetts. The significantly larger MGM venue gaming floor alone covers 125,000 square feet.
Thus far, though, the MGM casino hasn’t impacted Connecticut casinos as drastically as the Tribes feared. Connecticut budget analysts have found that slot revenues at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino have dropped just 9.2 percent — much less than the anticipated 25 percent drop — due to competition in Massachusetts from MGM Springfield and the Encore Boston Harbor.