Connecticut casino decision delayed, Hard Rock moving into Hartford

Hard Rock to open hotel in Hartford

Artist's rendering of a proposed casino off Interstate 84 in East Hartford, Connecticut.

HARTFORD, Conn. (WWLP) – The tribes that run Connecticut’s casinos wanted to select a 3rd casino location Tuesday. 22News has new information on why that decision is being delayed.

We told you about this first Friday on wwlp.com. The tribes that run Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have pushed back their deadline to pick a casino site to compete with MGM Springfield to an undetermined date.

Here are their options, East Hartford, Hartford, Windsor Locks (2) and East Windsor. The tribes need approval by both the town and developer.

East Hartford is the only site that has both approvals. They want to build a casino off I-84 at a closed Showcase movie theater.

Hartford submitted a proposal, but has no location. They did it because they will have a new mayor in January. Although, unrelated at this time, Hard Rock announced plans Monday to build a new hotel with live music venue near the new baseball stadium.  The hotel will also include a spa, gift shop and Hard Rock Cafe.  The New Britain Rock Cats, a Colorado Rockies Double-A affiliate will relocate to Hartford and be named the Yard Goats.

The developers of the Hard Rock project are the same developers pushing for a casino in East Windsor off I-91 at another closed Showcase movie theater. East Windsor plans on holding a town referendum in the future.

Although the tribes’ delays seem to be benefiting Windsor Locks the most. That town will hold a public hearing on their casino proposals Tuesday night. One proposal is at a closed terminal at Bradley International Airport.  Another is by the group that runs Bobby V’s Restaurant and the Off Track Betting facility. Windsor Locks would hold a town meeting and referendum if they approve a proposal.

Connecticut lawmakers still need to create a new law that would allow a 3rd casino. That won’t happen earlier than February.

MGM is suing the state, saying a 3rd casino, where only the tribes can run it, is illegal.  Due to this lawsuit, Hard Rock’s move into Hartford becomes more intriguing.  Will Hard Rock join MGM’s lawsuit or are they potentially waiting to see if MGM wins its lawsuit and is then positioned to build their own casino there?  That’s only if any ruling in the lawsuit would open the door for companies other than Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods to operate a casino in Connecticut that’s not on tribal land.  Those questions should be answered sometime in 2016.

MGM Springfield plans to open in September 2018.  The tribes have said they could get a casino open before then.

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