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Malloy aims to 'reinvigorate' state's relationships with casinos, tribes

By Jeffrey A. Johnson

Publication: The Day

Published August 05. 2011 4:00AM   Updated August 05. 2011 4:06PM
Tim Martin/The Day
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, second from right in foreground, tours the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, as part of his jobs and tourism tour Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. Mitchell Etess, right, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and Charles Bunnell, left foreground, Mohegan Tribe External and Government Affairs, chief of staff, accompany Malloy.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's statewide "jobs and tourism" tour took him Thursday to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino, where he sampled Chinese food in an employee cafeteria, chatted about Polish architecture with Geno Auriemma and learned about the casinos' many amenities.

Malloy said the purpose of his visit was to reinvigorate the state's relationship with both the Mohegan and the Mashantucket Pequot tribes.

On several occasions Thursday, Malloy also criticized former Gov. M. Jodi Rell's decision to reduce the budget for state tourism marketing to $1. Malloy said the state has not paid enough attention to its relationship with both tribes and the casinos.

"The clearest sign of that is going to a dollar promotion budget for the state of Connecticut when every other state in New England - and just about every other state in the nation - is spending money to promote itself," Malloy said of Rell's cut to tourism marketing. "That's the rough equivalent of cutting off your nose to spite your face."

Malloy reiterated Thursday his plan to make a $15 million-a-year commitment to tourism marketing. He spent about 90 minutes touring both casinos.

While at Mohegan, the governor visited various places, including the Eagleview Employee Center and the casino's public safety building. He was led through the casino by several executives, including Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, and Jeffrey A. Hartmann, president and chief executive officer of Mohegan Sun.

In Geno's Pub, Malloy ran into Auriemma, the University of Connecticut women's basketball coach, and the two spent about five minutes chatting - with the conversation wandering toward a discussion on architecture in Warsaw, the capital of Poland.

Bozsum said the point of Thursday's visit was to show Malloy a behind-the-scenes view and to discuss the casino's role in tourism and the state economy.

"We're creating jobs as fast as we can," Bozsum said. "But at the same time we need to keep that relationship open with the state to work on services and anything else that happens."

At Foxwoods, Malloy walked with a crowd led by Rodney Butler, the chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, and Scott Butera, Foxwoods Resort Casino's president and chief executive officer.

The men stopped in a kitchen for a food tasting and then at a roulette table for some small talk with a dealer before eventually ending the tour at the High Rollers Luxury Lanes and Lounge.

In a brief interview with members of the media, Malloy was asked about his budget and the elimination of a state-funded bus that transports casino workers living in Hartford to the region's casinos.

He said that it was not his goal to manage every aspect of state government.

"It's a question of what can we afford to subsidize and what can't we afford to subsidize," Malloy said. "Everybody wants the budget cut but nobody wants their service cut."

jeff.johnson@theday.com

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