Foxwoods whats state legislators to lower Connecticut's Gambling Age

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Dec 16, 2004
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Suggestion About Lowering Legal Gambling Age Getting Little Support
Foxwoods whats state legislators to lower Connecticut's Gambling Age


Talks between the Mashantucket Pequots and state legislators about lowering Connecticut's legal gambling age aren't likely to go anywhere fast, if they get started at all.

"I think it would be a hard sell for the legislature to lower that age," state Rep. Stephen Dargan, D- West Haven, and co-chairman of the committee that reviews bills related to gambling, said Friday.

On Wednesday, Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns Foxwoods Resort Casino, told The Courant that the state should consider dropping the age from 21 to 18 and extending the hours for legal liquor sales.

Butler cited a lower gambling age as a way to "enhance" the relationship between the tribe and the state, which receives 25 percent of slot machine revenue from the two Native American casinos — a total of $5.3 billion so far.

Butler noted that neighboring states, such as New York, allow 18-year-olds to gamble, giving casinos there a competitive advantage.

There is no public estimate of the added revenue that a lower age limit would bring, and there is no bill or formal proposal for revising the age. In the days since Butler's remarks, the Pequot tribe has distanced itself from the chairman's suggestion.

On Friday, a spokesman for the Pequots, Bill Satti, said the tribe "is not in favor of changing the age restriction for gaming," yet is "open to dialogue on this and other subjects that may arise to discuss, analyze and consider alternative ways to meet the needs of Connecticut's economy."

Revenue has been falling for Foxwoods and rival Mohegan Sun casino as gamblers wager less and as competition develops in neighboring states. Foxwoods' owners — who owe creditors billions of dollars — are trying to work through serious financial problems.

On Friday, Foxwoods and MGM Grand at Foxwoods reported April slot revenue of $52.3 million, down 9 percent from a year ago. The state's 25 percent share of that revenue came to $13.9 million.
By ERIC GERSHON Hartford Courant

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