The debate on establishing Connecticut’s first commercial casino on non-tribal land will continue in the legislative chambers.
Over an 11-hour period, legislators debated the rationale behind constructing MGM Resorts casino in the city in the face of overwhelming objections. But with Democratic State Rep. Jeffrey Berger’s influence, a vote of 18-6 for the public hearing to continue held sway.
The competitive bidding process for the proposed commercial casino will now hold. The co-chairman of the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee was the main opposition to allowing the proposed public hearings to take place. But with Berger’s manoeuvres, the public hearings over constructing the commercial casino will go on.
Rep. Jeffrey Berger was not the only one to initially withstand the proposed public hearing; Sen. Tim Larson and Sen. Tony Guglielmo of D-East Hartford and R-Stafford respectively were also against the hearing. Both Larson and Guglielmo fought valiantly against allowing the casino expansion bills to be included in the agenda.
Berger was able to pull off the stunt for allowing a public hearing on the competitive bidding bill by generating massive support from members of the relevant House committee. He said he is unsure of how things lie in the Senate, but he is sure that several Democrats and Republicans in the lower House desire to hold a public discussion over the proposed casino project.
House members that opposed the public hearings advanced several reasons for their antagonism. Larson said it was to favor owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, which give up to $7 billion to the state. He berated MGM for daring to come into Connecticut with false gaming promises.
Other opponents to the public hearing said the House does not have the time to hold legislative sessions over the debate for the casino expansion. But Rep. Joe Verrengia of D-West Hartford differed here, stating that allowing the public hearings to hold is no guaranttee that the bill will pass into law. He added that Connecticut will benefit greatly from the commercial casino if it is allowed to be constructed.