Group of city legislators to throw support behind expanding gambling

It is widely accepted that the casinos that will soon begin popping up in Massachusetts will cause a major cut in revenue the state receives from its casinos — and now a group of legislators from Bridgeport, New Haven and Windsor Locks are planning to announce Monday they support expanding gambling in their municipalities.

The group plans to release a study Monday that shows that allowing video gambling at Shoreline Star in Bridgeport, Sports Haven in New Haven and Bradley Tele-Theater in Windsor Locks would generate about $150 million in revenue a year, a spokesman for the House Democrats said Saturday.

Rep. Stephen Dargan, the co-chairman of the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee, said that this expansion is not included in the state budget that legislators are expected to approve in the coming days.

The spokesman for the House Democrats said that the 10-12 legislators organizing a press conference at the state Capitol Monday are calling for a task force to study the idea with the intention of legislation to be proposed next year.

“The news conference will feature support of expanding the availability of video gaming at Connecticut’s three” locations, the press release reads.

Currently the state’s casinos operated by the Indian tribes have exclusive rights to provide the type of gambling these legislators are supporting.

Nearly one-third and one-fifth of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun patrons are from Massachusetts and an additional 5 percent and 3 percent are from Maine, New Hampshire or Vermont, according to the report by the Policy Analysis Center at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth.

Connecticut has received 25 percent of receipts from video slot games at its Indian casinos since 1993, when then-Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. negotiated a compact that ended the state’s legal objections to the use of those games. Though the majority of the state’s share supports the general Fund, millions are also distributed each year as grants to 169 cities and towns.

When Massachusetts lawmakers agreed to allow casinos to open two years ago, Connecticut’s non-partisan budget office estimated the state may be headed for a $95 million a year cut in revenue from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun resorts, a 25 percent reduction.