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East Windsor Rejects Casino Referendum Ordinance

Proposed East Windsor Casino, ConnecticutResidents of East Windsor, Connecticut have voted against an ordinance that would have stopped a casino from being built in town.

A special town meeting was held last week to debate on the ordinance which would have resulted in the revoking of an agreement between the city and two Native American tribes entered into in March for building a third satellite casino in Connecticut.

The two tribes Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans who operate Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino in the state have teamed up to form a joint venture MMCT Venture, in order to develop a casino in East Windsor as a measure to retain millions of gambling dollars and thousands of jobs threatened by the upcoming MGM Springfield casino in nearby Massachusetts.

WWLP-22News

The ordinance was aimed at blocking development of casinos in the city without town referendums and included a provision that barred gaming facilities within 2,500 feet of a state-run treatment center. The chosen site for MMCT’s casino is located within that distance to a residential treatment center

Residents of East Windsor, a city which makes decisions via voting in town meetings however defeated the ordinance 198 to 112 in a packed town meeting. In a statement, Bob Maynard East Windsor First Selectman said

That’s over 60 percent so it was overwhelmingly a vote for a casino here in East Windsor and the people who voted for it and against it too felt strongly. It’s on the shoulders of state legislature to do what they think is best

Maynard said that the town meeting had unexpectedly seen a large turnout – the initial venue proved to be insufficient so the meeting was first moved to the cafeteria at Broad Brook Elementary School across the street, and later to the school's gymnasium to accommodate attendees. Although the measure has broad support, the town meeting did bring into focus sharply divided opinions among residents regarding the casino project.

Some residents were angered that a town wide referendum wasn’t held before the selectmen signed the agreement with the tribes. The board of selectmen noted that the town's charter didn’t call for a referendum. Other residents feared increased traffic, crime and problem gambling in the city as a result of the casino.

Supporters pointed out that the casino was an opportunity for the city to experience economic growth, something that East Windsor hasn’t seen in years. The proposal is however yet to receive legislative approval. There are currently three competing legislative bills open with respect to gambling expansion – one that supports the MMCT proposal, and two others that want to open up the process to other bidders.


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