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Connecticut Legislators Dismisses Total Smoking Ban for Tribal Casinos

On May 25th, 2009, a proposed bill for total smoking ban on the state two Indian-owned casino facilities was dismissed for the 2nd year in a row. The proposed gaming bill was cancelled by the legislature's Finance Committee, which failed to solve it on May 12th, 2009 before the 1:30 p.m. deadline.

House Bill 5608-an act concerning the release of liquor permits to casino facilities that allow smoking in such facilities passed the Committee of Government Administration and Elections Committee in an eight-three vote on April 20th.

The bill, which was introduced by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in February, would deny liquor licenses from Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resorts Casino unless the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe signed gaming agreements with the governor promising to enforce a total smoking ban by 2011. The same proposal came close to approval last year and was similarly dismissed.

Last year, the smoking ban was supported by the United Auto Workers, which had formed a dealer's organization at Foxwoods Casino. The Democrat-dominated Senate voted twenty-four-eleven, with one abstention, to approve it. But a day before the end of the current session, the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives decided not to bring the bill up for a decision.

Both the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe had vigorously contested the bill for a number of years on accounts that it is beyond Connecticut's jurisdiction to impose such law on tribal land and that it would violate the tribal compacts. In April, Mohegan Tribe Chairman Bruce Bozsum said that they will withhold hundred of millions of dollars of slot machine profits and file a case against the state before the US Supreme Court if state officials passed the bill.

The Mashantucket Tribe released a statement supporting the stance of the Mohegan Tribe. The Office of Fiscal Analysis released a fiscal note on the proposed smoking ban bill in April, warning that its approval could endanger the state revenue coming from tribal slot machines, including the liquor and cigarette taxes produced from sales at casino facilities if the smoking ban reduces the time that gamers spend inside the casino or pushes players to play in casino facilities outside of Connecticut.

Even without the lowered earnings, the tribe's payments to Connecticut will be lower this year because of the financial crisis compared with their combined contribution of $440 million.


21 July 2009
News Submitted by:
Lauren Desmond

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