Editorial: Connecticut tribes respond to economy

"The delay of the largest phase of Mohegan Sun's four-year, $925 million expansion is a sign of the times. The sagging economy has meant less foot traffic at the casino resort and fewer profits for the tribe. So rather than run up their debt, the Mohegans sensibly slammed on the brakes for their planned $735 million hotel complex. The most immediate effect will be the loss of 1,200 construction jobs.

Their main competition, the Mashantucket Pequots, have fallen on hard times, too. Their $700 million MGM Grand hotel opened in May next door to Foxwoods Resort Casino, but weeks later, the Pequots had their first layoffs. About 100 workers were idled after an "organizational review" determined business ain't so hot, and last week, Foxwoods said it would ax another 700.

All this bodes poorly for state taxpayers. Their government, which is a silent partner in the casinos, skims 25 percent off the top of slot-machine revenues, but its cut is expected to be at least $20 million less this year. The casinos also generate a good amount of income taxes and other revenues for the state, and those receipts are falling, too. And all this bad news comes at a time when the Wall Street meltdown is about to drain upward of $1 billion from the state budget, which already is officially $306 million in deficit.

But contrast the quick action by the casinos to avoid financial trouble with the lethargy of state government. The Indians see falling revenues and rein in their work force and capital projects; state officials see falling revenues and go into faux-concern mode."

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Tribes respond, state dithers (The Waterbury Republican-American 10/5)