Tribal casinos in CT are a big business, affecting many other aspects of life in the state. For Connecticut schools with sports mascots and/or nicknames associated with Native American imagery, the impact of tribal gaming in CT could soon become very real.
A potential change in state law would cut future funding for such schools if they persist in keeping those references. That could mean a loss of parts of tens of millions of dollars for those schools that tribal casinos in Connecticut provide.
Some Connecticut schools could soon face a decision
According to David Williams of CNN, the budget legislation containing the new language is on its way to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk. CT law only allows governors to use a line-item veto power for appropriations of money for distinct items. Thus, Lamont can’t cancel this particular item while approving the remainder of the legislation.
If it becomes law, it would essentially put schools in CT with Native American mascots on the clock. They would have two years to either modify their sports teams’ branding or obtain permission to use the imagery from a federally recognized Indigenous peoples group in their area.
The proponent of the change, CT Sen. Cathy Osten, estimates that a dozen high schools in the state could be in violation of the requirement. If they did not come into compliance within the specified time frame, they might lose some funding.
“If certain cities and towns won’t listen to their fellow citizens, then they can certainly do without the tribal money that they are showing such disrespect toward,” Osten said in a press release.
The Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund is part of the revenue share between those tribal groups and the state. In the 2021 fiscal year, the state’s schools split over $51 million from that fund. Currently, it appears that Lamont’s signature on the budget bills is probable.
The debate over budget measures seems over
Earlier this month, Lamont expressed opposition to the budget bill. That dismay had nothing to do with this particular item, though. Lamont opposed tax hikes. Legislators have since acquiesced to his demands. Given that change, Lamont’s signature now seems likely.
Moving forward, chunks of this fund could prove even more lucrative for schools. The oncoming gambling expansion, including legal online and retail sports betting plus online casinos, could make the operations of the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos in CT even more robust.
In the near future, compliance with this tenet could mean a difference of hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in funding. It’s also a reminder of the power of gambling in places like CT.