Naugatuck Senior Center takes different approach
Comments made by Foxwoods President and CEO Scott Butera have two out of the three local senior centers boycotting the casino.
According to an opinion piece published in the Boston Globe May 24, Butera reportedly said his casino could do without the bus loads of seniors who show up with oxygen tanks and walkers, and who do not spend enough money to make it worth the casino’s time to host them.
In response to his comments, the senior centers in Beacon Falls and Prospect have cancelled all trips to Foxwoods for the foreseeable future.
“[The seniors] spend a lot of money there. I think it’s very disgusting the way they’re trying to throw us out,” Beacon Falls Senior Center President Bernadette Dionne said.
Dionne said that all of the future casino trips will be to Mohegan Sun, where they appreciate the seniors’ money.
Prospect Senior Center Director Lucy Smegielski explained that the seniors at her center feel the same way.
“They just want to go to Mohegan now. We’ll stick to Mohegan,” Smegielski said.
Naugatuck Senior Center Director Harvey Frydman has taken a different approach. Rather than boycotting the casino, he has invited Butera to the senior center on Oct. 5 to explain his comments and to be a guest Bingo caller.
“We welcome Mr. Butera to Naugatuck Senior Center. Why wouldn’t we? He needs first-hand knowledge of senior centers,” Frydman said.
Frydman, who has planned a trip to Foxwoods for the members of his center on Aug. 7, feels that boycotting the casino would be giving Butera what he wants.
“If what he said was true and we boycotted, he would get his way. We want more seniors to go there,” Frydman said.
Butera said in an e-mail that he was looking forward to going to Naugatuck’s Senior Center, explaining his comments, and being a bingo caller.
“Harvey Frydman, the director of the Naugatuck Senior Center, reached out to invite me to call Bingo at the center in October. We had a very nice conversation about Foxwoods and the enjoyment his group receives from their trips here,” Butera wrote in the e-mail. “I am thrilled to be taking part in such a fun event and for the opportunity to connect on a more personal level with the members of the Naugatuck Senior Center.”
All three senior centers mentioned the fact that, during the day, it is primarily seniors who come to the casinos.
“They’re the only ones there, spending their money. The young kids are out working,” Dionne said.
Dionne was also upset to hear that senior centers around the state had received a letter of apology from Foxwoods, but that Beacon Falls had not received one. She felt that, because of Butera’s comments, the lack of an apology, and the fact that the casino is cutting out things like the handicapped line, Foxwoods has become more hostile towards seniors.
“Our seniors don’t deserve that. They spent a lot of money over there, so why would we consider going back if they treat us like that,” Dionne said. “We may be old but we won’t go down without a fight.”