|Connecticut’s “Las Vegas Nights” law has been repealed in a blatant attempt to prevent the further expansion of casinos. The law was originally used to permit churches and civic groups to raise money via gambling. Under the new legislation they will still be permitted to sponsor raffles and bingo games.|
Gov. John G. Rowland signed the legislation after the House voted 83-59 in favour of repeal and the Senate gave approval by voting 25-10. However he is cynical that the measure will stand up in the Supreme Court believing that it will be difficult to defend. Connecticut is already home to two of the world’s biggest casinos, Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun. Shouldn’t others have the opportunity to compete for business?
Rowland agrees: 'I liken it to the Supreme Court saying McDonald's can have a franchise here but Burger King can't. I just don't see the Supreme Court ruling in our favour, but the attorney general has asked us to pass this legislation. He thinks he can defend it. Good luck to him.'
Despite the original purpose of the “Las Vegas Nights” law the Pequot Indian tribe turned it to their advantage in order to open Foxwoods casino. The Mohegan tribe followed their example with the Mohegan Sun. Though the repeal will not affect these casinos several other Connecticut tribes hoping to open casinos have threatened legal action.
The repeal was intended to help solve problems such as crime, compulsive gambling and traffic jams all blamed on the casinos. By deliberately blocking tribes from building other casinos it is hoped these problems won’t get any worse. However many have argued that the measure is blatantly discriminatory.
Chief Quiet Hawk, head of the Golden Hill Paugussetts of Trumbull: 'They used particular legislation against a particular group of people to deny them equal rights under the law.' At least two tribes believe they are being aggressively targeted by the state. This has the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People up in arms. The NAACP is threatening to file a lawsuit on top of those expected from Connecticut’s tribes.
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal anticipated a legal challenge, but expects to prevail. Frankly he should anticipate unequivocal defeat. State Rep. Ernest Newton: 'Government ought to protect the rights of everybody. Now, today it might be the Indians. Tomorrow it might be somebody else.'