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Robert H. Steele, "The Curse: Big Time Gambling's Seduction of a Small New England Town"
Nov 15 2012 7:00 pm
At a time when more and more states are rushing to legalize or expand gambling, former Connecticut Congressman Robert Steele has written a novel set against the explosion of casino gambling in Connecticut during the 1990s, when two Indian tribes built the world’s two biggest casinos just eight miles apart.
Steele tells his story from a unique vantage point. He represented eastern Connecticut in Congress before the arrival of the two casinos (Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun) and subsequently lived on the edge of the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation, providing him with a keen appreciation of the political maneuverings that brought the casinos into being and a first-hand view of their impact.
“The Curse: Big-Time Gambling’s Seduction of a Small New England Town,” begins in 1637 with the massacre of the Pequot Indians and a Pequot sachem’s curse aimed at the young English soldier who is about to kill him. The story then jumps 350 years as the soldier’s 13th-generation descendant becomes embroiled in a battle to stop a fictional Indian tribe from building a casino that threatens his town and ancestral home.
The lure of easy money drives everyone, from the tribe’s chief to a shadowy Miami billionaire, venal politicians, and Providence mobsters, while a small Connecticut town must choose between preserving its character or accepting an extraordinary proposal that will change it forever.
Since Foxwood’s opening in 1992, the number of U.S. casinos has increased fourfold to approximately 1,000, while according to a 2009 state study, the impact of the casinos on Connecticut has ranged from the creation of thousands of jobs to a surge in gambling-related social problems. One startling example is the 400 percent rise in embezzlements in Connecticut between 1992 and 2007, a rise 10 times the national average.
Connecticut author Martin Shapiro has described the novel as “an epic story of politics, identity and greed that will leave you wondering where America is headed.”
The book’s release comes as all three of Connecticut’s neighboring states—Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island—are moving to open new casinos, and the U.S. Justice Department has taken a first step toward the legalization of Internet gambling.
This event is FREE.
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