Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell is “rethinking” a proposal to extend drinking hours at the state’s two casinos in the wake of a college student’s death in an automobile accident that police attribute to drunken driving, the Hartford Courant reported March 9.
Rell and Republican legislators had proposed extending drinking hours at the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But the death of Connecticut college student Elizabeth Durante, who was killed when the van she was riding in was hit head-on near the exit for the Mohegan Sun casino, has created doubt about the proposal.
“Even though this event occurred under the laws on the books for years, it does give one pause to question the wisdom of extending liquor service hours at the casinos,” Rell said, adding that “no proposal or idea is worth the potential loss of innocent young lives.”
Currently, alcohol service at the casinos ends at 1 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Round-the-clock alcohol service is legal in casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, however.
The driver of the second vehicle, Daniel Musser, a sailor from the Groton submarine base, was charged with manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol. Investigators are trying to find out if Musser was at the casino prior to the crash.
State Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia said Rell had received “bad advice” on the proposal to expand casino alcohol service. Prague introduced a bill in the current legislative session that calls for a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence for any conviction of manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Prague noted that the casino could be subject to punishment under the state’s dram-shop law if the police investigation determines that Musser had been drinking at a casino. The law holds sellers of alcohol accountable for damages caused by drunken patrons or customers.