Former Connecticut Congressman Robert Steele will discuss the background to his novel, “The Curse: Big-Time Gambling’s Seduction of a Small New England Town” (Levellers Press, Amherst, MA). The story is set against the casino gambling explosion that hit Connecticut during the 1990s, when two Indian tribes built the world’s two biggest casinos in the southeastern corner of the state, resulting in what has been termed “a gambling Chernobyl.” Steele represented eastern Connecticut in Congress before the arrival of the casinos (Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun) and subsequently lived on the edge of the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation, giving him a keen appreciation of the political maneuvering that brought the casinos into being and a firsthand view of their impact.

WNPR/Connecticut Public Radio’s John Dankosky calls the novel “fascinating” and Connecticut author Martin Shapiro has described it as “compelling and timely…an epic story of history, money and politics that will make you wonder where America is headed.” The book comes at a time when Connecticut’s casinos face the prospect of heavy new competition from New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and there is growing political pressure to legalize Internet gambling.