A must read article detailing the views of former Connecticut Congressman Robert Steele, who details the development of that state’s two tribal casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, and their negative effects on the local communities.Steele notes the over-saturation of casinos in the northeast has more and more casinos fighting over a dwindling supply of gamblers:
“Now 40 states have a combined total of more than 1,000 casinos. With this competition, the stakes have been raised. Casinos now aim for a more diverse audience while still keeping up their glittery, high-class façade, Steele said. Some people are lured into gambling addiction, hooked on the thrill and the promise that the next game could yield a jackpot.
Former Congressman speaks against casinos
With the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes seeking to build casinos in north central Connecticut, a new part of the state may soon experience issues that are now familiar to those in the southeastern region.
Both tribes want to build new casinos along the Interstate 91 and 84 corridors north of Hartford to compete with the MGM Casino now under construction in Springfield, Mass.
Reactions have been mixed. Officials in Windsor, Suffield and Enfield have said they don’t want casinos. East Hartford has said it would welcome a casino at the former Showcase Cinemas on Silver Lane, which sits alongside I-84 and has been abandoned for years. Meanwhile, Bradley International Airport has been suggested as a possible location.
Robert Steele, a business executive, former U.S. Congressman and son of radio legend Bob Steele, wants area residents to know about how casino gambling can quickly change a community. He spoke about the issue on April 28 at a Suffield Women’s Club meeting at the Suffield Senior Center. Steele lived in southeastern Connecticut and watched the developments firsthand, he said, coming to the conclusion that the casinos deal their communities a losing hand on many fronts.
“It started in 1988 when Congress passed the Indian Gaming Act,” Steele said. “This allowed federally recognized tribes to start casinos to support themselves.”
The Mashantucket Pequots, who received federal recognition in 1983, were the first to open a casino in 1992. Then another tribe, the Mohegans, received recognition in 1994 and opened their casino two years later.
Prior to that, Steele said, the only states that allowed legalized slot machines and table games were Nevada and New Jersey. Gamblers, he said, were affluent folks who usually visited the casinos occasionally.
Now 40 states have a combined total of more than 1,000 casinos. With this competition, the stakes have been raised. Casinos now aim for a more diverse audience while still keeping up their glittery, high-class façade, Steele said. Some people are lured into gambling addiction, hooked on the thrill and the promise that the next game could yield a jackpot.
“Now the casinos are trying to attract more working- and middle-class people,” said Steele. “In fact, the new face of gambling addiction is an elderly lady.”
Steele said that it’s a myth that casinos contribute to the local economy by bringing in more customers. He said a friend of his who had a restaurant in New London County thought the casinos would increase his business. Instead, they had the opposite effect and the restaurant closed after a couple of years.
Steele said people go to the casino, eat at the casino, stay overnight in the casino hotel, attend events at the casino and drive home after fueling up at the tribal-owned gas station.
To read the entire article on the Hartford Courant‘s website please click here