This is an open letter to Governor Ned Lamont from SE CT concerning economic conditions in the region. State Senator Cathy Osten has asked us to share it and would also like to encourage us to please consider calling Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz’s office at (860) 301-1994 to ask her to support eastern CT by coming out in favor of modernizing gaming and supporting the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nations.
PDF of Letter:
Text of Letter:
May 13, 2020
Honorable Ned Lamont
Governor, State of Connecticut
Hartford, CT 06106
Dear Governor Lamont,
We commend you for your handling of the COVID-19 crisis and for prioritizing the protection of public health and safety during this critical time. You have given Connecticut residents a much-needed sense of security as we learn how to best live with, and among, the virus. As we enter this next phase of the crisis, however, southeastern Connecticut needs your immediate attention, particularly as it relates to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun and the entertainment and tourism sectors that support our regional economy.
We are blessed that Electric Boat (EB) has continued operating throughout this pandemic; and, we are proud of Connecticut’s long history in partnering with EB, including the investment of approximately $100 million in state taxpayer dollars, to assure their ongoing success. If EB were shut down, we trust that you would be in daily contact with their CEO offering your full support and engagement to get the company back up and running, and that you would do likewise for any other major employer in the state.
We are compelled to point out, however, that we have not seen that same sense of concern or attention directed to mitigate the closure of Connecticut’s two world class casinos and the furlough of thousands of employees. The economic output of both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun resonate throughout the whole of Connecticut, but nowhere is their impact felt more acutely than in southeastern Connecticut.
Norwich, as the largest city in the region, has over 11% of its population employed by either Foxwoods or Mohegan. That number doesn’t even account for the number of employees associated with the 164 vendors in the city that are part of the supply chain. By way of example, Norwich Public Utility revenue is down by 21.5% – a reflection of the fact that two of their top ten customers
are casino dependent and therefore closed. Given that the city benefits from 10% of the utility’s incoming revenue, Norwich will see an immediate corresponding deficiency as a result. This same scenario is playing out across southeastern Connecticut in small rural towns like Montville, Preston and North Stonington just to name a few.
It’s not just the casinos themselves that are closed. Stores, restaurants, hotels, museums, and more are all heavily reliant upon the casinos for their own prosperity. So, too, are municipalities across the state that see a portion the $280 million generated annually by the casinos in the form of grants under the Pequot/Mohegan fund.
The continued closure of the casinos is untenable. As the Governor of our state, we need you to be a partner in reopening Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in a safe and responsible manner. Our casino employees, their families, and other colleagues need to know that you are committed to this region. Paul Mounds and David Lehman have improved the lines of communication of late, but this situation warrants your direct and personal involvement.
You have been a leader in keeping us safe, we urge you to be that same leader in reopening our tourism and entertainment economy with the same focus. That can be done by modernizing Connecticut’s gaming policies through executive order. Allowing our state to compete with its neighbors, right now! It is time to put aside the political disagreements of the past and to focus on what we can do now to energize our state’s economy. Many of our daily interactions have gone virtual. Gaming policy should be no different.
Governor, we ask that you:
1. Personally, engage with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes to determine how the State can best assist the Tribes, support laid-off employees, and foster a platform for reopening Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun as soon as possible.
2. Fast track Access Health CT and Medicaid health care coverage enrollment for out-of-work employees.
3. Immediately authorize the Tribes by Executive Order to operate internet-gaming.
4. Immediately authorize Lottery to operate internet-keno and on-line lottery.
5. Immediately authorize the Tribes by Executive Order to operate sports betting.
Southeastern Connecticut continues to have among the lowest recorded COVID-19 infections in the state. We have done our part to flatten the curve due in large part to the quick responsiveness of our two Tribal Nations.
Now we ask for your help, Governor, in restarting the two economic powerhouses of our region. Please help us foster in a new modern era of gaming in Connecticut.
Catherine A. Osten Mike France
State Senator, 19th District State Representative, 42nd District
Christine Conley Emmett Riley
State Representative, 40th District State Representative, 46th District
Brian Smith Kate Rotella
State Representative, 48th District State Representative, 43rd District
Holly Cheeseman Kevin Ryan
State Representative, 57th District State Representative, 139th District
Heather Somers Paul Formica
State Senator, 18th District State Senator, 20th District
Anthony Nolan Joe De La Cruz
State Representative, 39th District State Representative, 41st District
State Senator, 33rd District