Connecticut Tribes Seek Bill to Increase Funds for Towns

Under new legislation by Connecticut lawmakers, cities that receive tribal gaming funds could get a big increase if the bill passes.

Connecticut Tribes Seek Bill to Increase Funds for Towns

Connecticut towns that get money from tribal gaming revenues could be in for a big increase if a bill gets approved by the legislature. The funding could triple for those towns. Bill No. 1213 would change the requirements for the distribution of money earned through gaming revenue.

Currently, the state receives 25% of slot machine revenues from the state’s two casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. That rate would go up should the bill pass. With the creation of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Fund, the towns that are eligible to get money would get it from that fund rather than from the state’s general fund.

It is estimated that the tribes would deposit more than $139 million every year in the fund. The first would be 2026. The Office of Policy and Management would be in charge of distributions to the affected cities.

Both the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes said they supported the bill. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal chairman Rodney Butler and Mohegan Tribe chairman James Gessner, both submitted written testimony to the state’s Appropriations Committee.

“In the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect we have worked together — government to government, positioning Mohegan as an industry leader and driver of economic growth — something critical not only to our region, but the entire state,” Gessner wrote.

The advantage for cities is that the money put in the fund would go directly to them. The bill outlaws the money spent for anything else. In the past, money put in the general fund was often used for other needs. The governor would have to submit an emergency order to used the funds in other ways and it would need two-thirds of the legislature to approve it.

“As a small sovereign nation, we understand all too well what it takes to run a local government and that every dollar counts when it comes to funding critical programs and services,” Butler said. “With the overwhelming bipartisan support from across the state we have received over the years for our economic initiatives, we want to make sure that the state’s municipalities share in the success of our venues.”

The bill was endorsed by the state’s Appropriations Committee last week with a joint favorable vote. It is expected to be reviewed by the General Assembly for a vote.