Grass-roots groups, including community organizations, anti-gambling advocates and business leaders, are mobilizing around the state to oppose any more casinos.
Preliminary discussions have started to create a statewide group committed to fighting any new casino plans. Leaders said the time is ripe for such an effort.
“There are so many groups forming that it makes sense to bring people together, to share information, to educate one another and to develop strategy,” said Joe McGee, vice president of public policy for SACIA, the Business Council of Southwestern Connecticut.
The anti-casino forces hail from the woods of northwestern and southeastern Connecticut to the Litchfield Hills and the monied towns of Connecticut’s Gold Coast.
In each place, American Indian tribes are considering plans to build casinos if they become recognized by the federal government.
Three different statewide polls last week showed that the opposition is not limited to these areas: a little more than half of those polled said they opposed additional casinos in Connecticut, while about 30 percent wanted more casinos and the remainder were undecided.
Residents and business leaders worry that casinos would bring traffic, development problems and social ills.
In the past several weeks, hundreds of people have attended forums around the state to learn about the federal recognition system, which grants tribes certain rights and benefits, including the right to operate casinos.
The various small opposition groups fret that they have few resources to fight the system. They have little money and no lobbyists, while the gambling industry is backing some Indian tribes with lawyers, researchers and lobbyists in Hartford and Washington.
SACIA and other groups are discussing whether some kind of coalition could be formed to better address casino issues on a statewide basis.