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$3B in quarters

Depending on the point of view, then-Gov. Lowell P. Weicker was either a genius or a traitor 17 years ago when he made a deal with the Mashantucket Pequots to allow slot machines at their newly opened Foxwoods Resort Casino.

There was a quid pro quo in the Jan. 13, 1993, agreement lifting Connecticut's ban on slots: Foxwoods could be the state's sole slot machine operator as long as it shared its winnings with the state. For every slot dollar the Mashantuckets earned, Connecticut would get 25 cents.

The Mashantuckets agreed and ever since those quarters have been rolling in.

In April 1994, the tribe amended its agreement to allow a similar pact between the state and Mohegan Tribe. Having just obtained federal recognition, the Mohegans planned to build a casino too. Mohegan Sun opened in October 1996, and like the Mashantuckets, agreed to pay 25 cents on every dollar earned for exclusive slot operating rights in the state.

Together, the tribes have contributed almost $5.5 billion under the so-called compacts - more than $3 billion from the Mashantuckets and $2.3 billion from the Mohegans.

The Mashantuckets will mark their milestone - surpassing $3 billion in contributions - with a gathering today at their Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.

Taxpayers in Connecticut may want to celebrate, too.

Casino slot revenues paid by the two tribes and combined with the state's lottery and other gaming revenues help to fill Connecticut's well. After the income, sales and corporation taxes, the gaming payments are the state's fourth largest stream of revenue.

Like many businesses, the casinos have been hurting in the recession, but still, they contributed almost $380 million of the $660 million in gaming payments collected by the state in 2009. And combined, they employ more than 18,000 people.

Wagering is not for everyone, and those who do indulge should do so responsibly. But when gaming is allowed, as it is in Connecticut, taxpayers can find solace in those gaming dollars helping to pay the state's bills.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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