Three New Casinos in CT’s Future?

Competition, Over-Saturation –

…these are the words one hears often when looking at the Casino landscape in the northeast. The larger northeast is starting to feel it – more NY casinos, PA casino revenue showing first decline, Delaware properties showing dark days with rumors of state bailouts.

Closer to home in New England, we ponder the future of 10 full casinos and two slot parlors and how will they are compete? Zoom in to one state – how about five tribal casinos in CT? It could happen!

Rick Green of the Hartford Courant wrote an interesting article about “…a new draft proposal of revised tribal recognition rules by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs may provide a fast track to recognition for three more tribal groups: the Schaghticokes of Kent, the Eastern Pequots of North Stonington and the Golden Hill Paugussetts of Trumbull and Colchester.”

Whether most thought this was settled long ago in 2005, or others (especially the tribes) thought that it was still a matter of time, the tribes themselves never stopped the push for recognition.

Green points out the two areas resurfacing in the discussion, the political and the historical.

Historically, the tribes still believe they have the proof to show they are modern descendants. The new proposal only requires Native Americans show a “…genealogical descent from a historic tribe and continuity since 1934.” Previously they had to show historical connections as far back as first contact in the 1600’s.

The tribes will find heavier opposition politically. Previously in 2002, the Eastern Pequots and the Schaghticokes won preliminary recognition, but were then denied in 2005. Communities, officials and lobbyists all worked hard to overturn the 2002 decision. Since then, seeking a way through the courts has proved fruitless.  I wonder if the Mashentuckets and Mohegans will support their brethren in this future matter, since some of the lobbying in 2005 was rumored to keep the number of recognized tribes to two for financial considerations to the state.

I believe the state of CT continues to fear the recognition of three more tribes because it worries about three more casinos. However, aren’t these two different issues? Hasn’t Connecticut made its own problems by first reducing these tribal communities to tiny groups through 300 years of war and abuse only to finally to give them a chance for recovery and financial gain. The Nutmeg State has come to depend on casino revenue – to the point of adding keno to supplement the losses due to competition from Rhode Island, the future of Massachusetts, New York and Maine?

Is the recognition of a people’s history and existence trumped by whether we might have too many casinos in CT? How can the financial means of a tribe be used as a tool against the discussion if inclusion and recognition, before actual recognition is proved?

Mr. Green ends his editorial with the following:

“Eight years ago, as opponents declared that the days of federal recognition were over, Richard Velky, leader of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation faction, offered a different, and perhaps prescient, vision.
‘If they claim for one second that this is going to deter this tribe, look at our history. Look at how many times they kept us off the land. You burned our homes. You stopped us from assembling,” Velky said in a driving rainstorm before despondent Schaghticokes. “We are here today and we are not stopping today.’ “

I would agree five casinos would be tough to sustain, especially when the entire country is starting to experience the explosion of new casinos and casino gambling. But federal recognition is step one. Let’s fairly evaluate that first.

That’s all for now.