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Call for Fresh Casino Bids in North Central Connecticut Draws Criticism

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The partnership of two tribes that’s planning to build a third casino in north central Connecticut has been criticized for soliciting more bids as its picks a site for the facility. But the tribes said that decision is all about transparency.

The Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans formally reopened their request for proposals as they seek a site for the facility. They said they’ll accept new bids until October 15.

So far, two towns -- East Hartford and Windsor Locks -- have submitted detailed proposals, but both have said they want to update those bids with new details. 

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler said while those updates are made, other communities also have an opportunity to be considered. 

"As opposed to just limiting it to the two towns that suggested changes, we felt it appropriate from a transparency perspective to re-open it up for a short period of time, so that we see all proposals open and clearly," Butler told WNPR.

For instance, Hartford has expressed interest, but no specific site in the city has been put forward. 

Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown said they still hope to have a final choice ready before going back to the legislature for permission next year.

"While sooner is better, optimal is more important," he said. "And I don't know anyone out there that would go into a $200 million to $300 million investment and let the clock drive their business decisions, rather than site selection, and picking the right and best situation."

The casino is supposed to compete with a facility that’s being built by MGM International in Springfield. MGM blasted the news of the re-opened RFP, calling the process a sham.

Meanwhile, the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation called the decision "a bizarre twist in a process that seems rigged to benefit a group of insiders rather than the people of Connecticut."

The Schaghticokes, with financial backing from MGM, have sued the state of Connecticut over being shut out of bidding to develop the third casino.

Harriet Jones is Managing Editor for Connecticut Public Radio, overseeing the coverage of daily stories from our busy newsroom.

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