A newly formed coalition of groups opposed to casino expansion said Thursday they will seek state legislation that would prevent new casinos from opening in Connecticut.
The state is currently home to two of the world’s largest casinos, The Foxwoods Resort Casino and The Mohegan Sun, both operated by federally recognized Native American tribes.
Earlier this year, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs recognized a third Connecticut tribe. Decisions on four other applications are expected in the near future. All have indicated they plan to open casinos in the state.
The Connecticut Alliance Against Casino Expansion, which includes business and community groups and religious organizations, came to the capitol Thursday to make its case.
Christopher Bruhl, president of SACIA, the business council of southwestern Connecticut, said proposed casinos in Fairfield County would create gridlock on Interstate 95.
“Businesses can’t work if their people can’t get to work,” Bruhl told reporters.
Other members of the group said they are concerned about the impact of casinos on nearby residents and businesses, and the moral and social costs of gambling.
The group said it believes the federal recognition process needs to be changed, but wants the legislature to act in the meantime.
“Connecticut has to take matters into its own hands,” said Jeff Benedict, the president of the alliance.
The group is asking lawmakers to repeal Connecticut’s Las Vegas Nights law, which allows churches and civic organizations to offer gambling fund-raisers.
Under the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, federally recognized tribes are entitled to pursue any gambling that already exists in a state. The Mashantucket Pequots used the Las Vegas Nights law as the basis for opening Foxwoods.
— Associated Press