Connecticut cities would benefit greatly from tribal gambling expansion that includes sports betting and online casinos.
In total, the tribal gaming expansion would generate approximately $88 million annually for local municipalities.
The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Fund
In 1993, the legislature created the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Fund.
Its revenue derives from casino gaming at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Money from the fund is distributed to local governments.
Payments to cities for the current year total $51 million. That figure originally was more than $100 million. It decreased over the years as gaming revenue lessened and the state held a higher percentage of that revenue.
With additional revenue from sports betting and online casino under S 146, the local share would go up to $139 million.
“This brings us back to the historic level of funding that the municipalities used to get from this grant,” Osten said. “It would include dollars received from the slots, iGaming, and sports betting. It is three times more than what municipalities receive now. Currently, the state keeps the largest portion which was not the original intent of this fund.”
Generating local support for gambling expansion
Osten’s bill has 16 co-sponsors. That seems like a nice start, but a closer look at the names reveals they are all from the eastern delegation. These lawmakers from districts around the Connecticut tribal casinos tend to support their interests.
But passing legislation requires statewide support, particularly around the larger cities.
According to Osten, S 146 would bring Bridgeport an additional $9 million, Hartford nearly $11 million, New Haven nearly $9 million, and Waterbury $4.5 million. Of course, the money could make an even greater difference in smaller towns with fewer revenue options.
“I do think when my colleagues look at these numbers, it may be enough to convince people that this is a way to get dollars in their districts,” Osten said.
The Connecticut Joint Public Safety and Security Committee held a hearing on the future of gaming in the state last month. Committee chair Maria Horn told PlayCT to expect another hearing on specific legislation, including Osten’s bill, later this month.