Another of the many things that make the overnight casino bus crash so frustrating is that even if there was no possibility of changing the law to allow gambling closer to the city, the location they used would still have been ideal for rail.
As Arcady pointed out in the comments to my first post on this topic, the casino that the bus was returning from, Mohegan Sun, is located right next to the New London and Northern, an active freight line that is currently part of the New England Central Railway. It would have been a tiny part of the resort's construction budget to build a station there.
Mohegan Sun is one of the largest casinos in the country. Curiously, its biggest competitor, Foxwoods, is just a few miles away across the Thames River. Foxwoods is located at 350 Trolley Line Boulevard, so named because a branch of the Shore Line Electric Railway ran down it. I don't have any maps or pictures of the old line, so I don't know how easy it would be to rebuild it or to link it to the nearby Providence and Worcester line, but the location was once served by rail.
The Foxwoods website says that it's served by over a hundred buses a day. According to the Mohegan Sun website, over twenty buses a day arrive there, but I think the real number is higher. There is definitely the ridership to justify reactivating passenger service on that line. Arcady writes, "they'd need a new station and permission to run more trains across that drawbridge east of Old Saybrook."
It's true that there are only five Shore Line East trains a day that cross the bridge. It's also true that most of the Amtrak trains that go through New London are pretty full. But the Shore Line East trains could be extended to Mohegan Sun and beyond, to Norwich, Willimantic and even Mansfield Depot, just a few miles from the University of Connecticut. If the line is electrified, trains could run directly from Penn Station or possibly Grand Central.
The Niantic River Bridge is being replaced, and the new bridge will allow for more trains, and the upgrades to the Hartford-Springfield line could relieve some of the congestion on the Shore Line, but it's still a drawbridge that has to be raised for boats to go under, and the number of trains will be limited.
Some of the trains could be operated as shuttles from New London, or perhaps even Providence with an awkward change in direction. Would gamblers from, say, Chinatown, put up with a three seat ride (subway, mainline train, shuttle) instead of a one-seat bus? Probably not during rush hours, but during off-hours they could get a two-seat ride, and it might just boost ridership enough to make regular local service on these lines viable.
If you're thinking it's too expensive, just take a look at satellite photos of the area, and marvel at the amount of money that was spent on bringing cars to these resorts. New stations at Mohegan Sun and Norwich would cost a fraction of one of those parking lots, and rehabbing the rail line would be within the same range. The main point is that these casinos could have been major drivers of rail expansion in the area, but instead they were boosters of the road infrastructure.