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Connecticut's Two Indian Casinos Reaps Windfall from Neighboring Rhode Island and Massachusetts Gamblers
By Tom Wanamaker, Indian Country Today, Oneida, N.Y.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

Feb. 4 - NEW ENGLAND GAMING DYNAMICS: If a new study by a Massachusetts university is correct, Connecticut's state government owes a debt of gratitude to its counterparts in neighboring Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Because Providence and Boston do not permit casino gaming, Hartford is reaping the benefits. 

According to "New England Casino Gaming: A Foxwoods Resort & Mohegan Sun, 2004 Update," released this month by the University of Massachusetts Darmouth's Center for Policy Analysis, out-of-state gamblers from Connecticut' two New England neighbors indirectly contributed an estimated total of $158 million to the Nutmeg state's treasury in 2003. 

The study analyzes the "New England patron origin and fiscal impact" of Connecticut's two Indian casinos by applying patron origin ratios from the center's 1999 study to calendar year 2003 financial data derived primarily from the Connecticut Division of Special Revenue and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. 

OF NOTE: The study estimates that Massachusetts residents spent approximately $829 million at the Connecticut casinos in 2003, versus to $620 million in 1998. This translates into an indirect contribution of approximately $116 million to the Connecticut treasury. 

Rhode Islanders are estimated to have spent approximately $301 million at Connecticut's two casinos in 2003 compared to $226 million in 1998, resulting in an indirect contribution of approximately $42 million to Hartford. 

In 2003, Foxwoods paid $197,930,067 to Connecticut, as compared to $170,033,845 in 1998. Mohegan Sun paid $198,468,407 to Connecticut in 2003, versus $106,154,735 in 1998. 

To be sure, the first two sets of numbers above are estimates. But, scholars at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government conclude that the study's numbers may be conservative since out-of-state casino patrons tend to stay longer than in-state visitors, possibly spending even more money, according to a footnote at the end of the document. 

Legislators in Massachusetts failed to pass gaming legislation in 2003, but the effort is likely to be revived. Officials in Rhode Island, however, remain staunch and steadfast in their opposition to anything that even smells like an assertion of tribal sovereignty. 

Watching potential revenue bleed across state borders has got to be painful for state and local politicians. Indian gaming is a viable, well-regulated solution that can recapture some of that lost money for the benefit not only of the tribe or tribes involved, but for state taxpayers and local job seekers as well. 

Established in 1985, the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is a "multidisciplinary research unit dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge that facilitates economic, social and political development." The study, authored by center Director Clyde W. Barrow Ph.D., is available at: www.umassd.edu/cfpa/casino.pdf. 

-----To see more of Indian Country Today, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.indiancountry.com 

(c) 2004, Indian Country Today, Oneida, N.Y. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. PENN, 


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