A bill to ban smoking at Connecticut’s two tribal casinos went down to defeat last month as an influential legislative committee failed to take critical votes on the measure.
Artful inaction on the part of the Finance Committee means the proposal is “technically dead,” though proponents of the measure will continue to fight until the legislative session adjourns June 3.
The threat of a smoking ban at the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos, owned by sovereign tribes that are not subject to government interference, had the irate Mohegans promising to withhold millions in slot revenue from the state.
Governor M. Jodi Rell was on the Indians’ side. She has signed agreements with the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans to enact voluntary, partial smoking bans at their casinos and enhance ventilation systems.
But anti-smoking activists including labor leaders said they will not be deterred by the seeming failure of the bill.
“We’re not going to quit until we get this bill,” said dealer Jack Edwards, who works at Foxwoods. “We have to get the casinos to go smoke-free. Our lives depend on it.”
The tribes, of course, were pleased by the outcome.
“Through action today, the lawmakers have demonstrated a respect for the government-to-government relationship that has existed between the Mohegan Tribe and the state of Connecticut for generations. We commit to honor that relationship and to continue to work on issues of mutual concern,” Mohegan Tribal Chairman Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum said in a statement.