Feds Approve Gaming Amendment For Tribal Nations, MGM Weighs Legal Challenge

The U.S. Department of Interior on Thursday approved a gaming amendment paving the way for Connecticut’s two tribal nations to build a casino in East Windsor on non-tribal land to protect its market share from MGM Resorts recently opened destination in Springfield, Massachusetts. Litigation could follow.

MGM has proposed a $675 million waterfront destination at the Steelpointe Harbor redevelopment area. It’s lobbying the state legislature to approve an open, competitive process for a casino resort while the tribal nations lobby to continue the exclusive gaming compact with the state.

From Mark Pazniokas, CT Mirror

The terse notice posted on Interior’s web site at 11:15 a.m. gives no rationale for the reversal, saying only that after “further consultations with the Tribe,” the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs signed off on the document on March 15 and that it would become effective after its publication Monday in the Federal Register. The DOI had no comment.

The notice removes a key obstacle to the construction of Connecticut’s first casino off tribal lands, but it invites the certain revival of a legal challenge by MGM Resorts International of the state’s authorization of the East Windsor casino without competition. MGM’s original lawsuit was dismissed as premature, but that no longer is the case.

… The decision by Interior comes as Gov. Ned Lamont is trying to negotiate a universal settlement with the tribes, MGM and others about how to proceed on casino expansion and sports betting without further litigation. The administration and tribes have not resolved the tribes’ claim they have sole rights to sports betting, which they consider a form of casino gambling, and should be compensated if Connecticut wishes to license its OTB parlors, CT Lottery or anyone else to take wagers on sports.

Gambling issues are complicated in Connecticut by the de facto partnership of the state and the two federally recognized tribes, sovereign governments with the right under federal Indian gaming law to offer any form of gambling otherwise allowed in the state.

Full story here.

Statement from Uri Clinton, MGM Resorts International

“The Attorney General’s office has repeatedly warned, as recently as last year, that pursuing a no-bid approach in East Windsor would expose Connecticut to significant legal risks. As MGM has always stated, we will continue to pursue all legal options, including litigation, to defend our right to compete in Connecticut.

While we assess the planned Interior Department publication, the fundamentals haven’t changed. MGM remains steadfast in our view that Bridgeport is the best location in Connecticut for a commercial casino if the state is to maximize jobs, economic growth, tourism, and revenue–and a transparent, competitive process is in the state’s best interest.”

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11 comments

  1. Reminder: in the beginning: all legal gambling venues instituted had a percentage of the take forwarded to the State and were earmarked to go for money to assist the education system etc.. lotto, slots, dog track, etc.. If I’m not mistaken, when all of this started the deficit was NO WHERE NEAR what it is today. Where’s the money???? A big LOL to the answer to that question. The politicians continue to tell us that these things will fix all the woes of government and help lessen tax burdens. Yeah right. Like Sunday sales of alcohol. It may be a “convenience” but has not generated a cent in tax money. Ask your politicians about how many more dollars were realized through this great change in that industry? NADA!!
    Anyway, speaking of money, can someone please follow up and publish all the lawsuits and dollars paid out to attorneys, both outside and internal costs, settlement payments, buyout payments resulting from Internal strife such as in the police department etc etc etc……. And again I ask…. is there anyone on the Common Council willing to take charge and be outspoken about all of the turmoil and related expenditures that this all costs Bridgeport’s taxpayers?????
    Does anybody miss investigative journalism into these things or it is it just me? Although I think maybe we’ll see some of that soon. They’ll have no choice!!
    More to come……

    1. It’s like Defilippos 4 year fight to overturn Bridgeport’s liquor regulations so HE can open a store where one is not allowed.
      For the good of the people….right??!!

  2. a year ago , I was there when the MMCT tribal venture was asked, “Have you secured funding for the $350M project and they clearly said “no”. They were also asked whey didn’t the put a proposal for another town like BPT. They clearly answered the legislature did not give them that option, it had to be in a specific radius, hence the East Windsor project. When asked would they choose BPT area over East Windsor if they could, and the answered with a simple YES.

    The above is important to note, because MMCT are very smart business people who understand that Windsor casino project is an exercise in futility. Now they claim they can NOT secure funding because they did not get the blessing of the Office of Interior. Where he we are. How many investors will line up to fund a project that cost $350M that will be difficult to remain profitable just 20 minutes from a much better gaming experience? Did I mention that MGM landlocked the Windsor casino project so it’s impossible for them to ever expand. They will not secure commercial funding as necessary. The play for another casino is in Bridgeport and don’t think for a second MMCT doesn’t already know that and they have a counter play already to MGM’s proposal. But there is not need to rush in their eyes as they have the upper hand and MGM is just sitting on the bench. Time kills all deals.

    1. LOL, Thanks Bob.
      I’ve put many people behind bars during my 20 years on the P.D. in Stamford so if I was to ever be the Mayor of Bridgeport I would just pick up where I left off! Bridgeport citizens would not be paying for it either.
      I would immediately get the Feds, the States A.G, and whatever other entities could be involved to look at EVERY aspect of Bridgeport’s politics. Voter fraud, hiring and appointment practices, (Police Chief etc. etc.); committee panels including some of their decisions. City attorney practices, department practices and decisions; RFP’s. Contracts being handed out to certain companies for “emergency” purposes. Etc. Etc. A grand and impossible plan many would say.
      I’d have the zoning board guy who sits at the bar on video colluding with……oh never mind, that was done. Including when he chastised a person who attended a zoning board meeting just because he was sitting on “our” side of the room during one of the Defilippo liquor hearings. One of the ones you attended as well Bob. The scolding happened on Madison Ave during a function at the restaurant and the words were “why were you there supporting them, what Mario wants Mario gets”. Nervous now buddy!?
      Mind you, I never ever implicated Mario Testa in any of my blogging OR my discussions with anyone. That’s for an investigation to decide.
      I could go on BUT, before any of this could be initiated I would seek the public’s vote on a referendum to PREVENT any city funds from being used to defend any politician or associate implicated in wrongdoing. Probably wouldn’t happen (for existing office holders) due to the legal system as we know it, but then again it would probably be worth the money to clean Bridgeport up and jail some of these corrupt people. How about getting a law enacted for any future politico’s, preventing them from accessing legal funds and pensions etc. I know..pie in the sky- but worth the attempt. Look at what its cost Bridgeport over the past decades in more ways than one.
      So thanks for the thought Bob but I’m doing fine in retirement. Many of my P.D. associates in retirement have set up shop as P.I.’s and from time to time I get some scoop which keeps me informed of things that the general population isn’t aware of until it hits the news.
      On that note…………more to come……

  3. People forget that MGM has a legal standing in the East Windsor casino by order of the judge. They could request and receive an injunction on the basis of discrimination and violation of the commerce clause.
    Firstly the bills must pass and be signed by Lamont, secondly if a law suit against the state will be filed only after the first steps transpires. The bottom line is no new casino will be opening its doors for years
    Sports betting is another story. This could be up and running by this fall if the state doesn’t cowar to the two “tribes”.

    1. But what’s the end game Charlie? A Bridgeport casino been going on for over 25 years, maybe more. Personally, while it can’t compete with MGM Springfield I think the East Windsor helps MGM Springfield. It will create a new generation of people who wants to “entertain” themselves with gaming in CT, that will eventually leave the nest and head to Mass for a big venue. 350 million is not a very large investment for the Tribes, and I don’t think it’s a total lose in its current market, it will provide jobs and make some profit. People like choice or every the option of a choice. East Windsor provides it.

      Instead of just shuttle buses on the highway you will have shuttle high speed ferries[ up in down the sound to the Port. Pleasure Beach will be one of the most profitable destination resort casinos. A Resort Casino on its own island with is own private beach. Not to mention the train and airport two minutes away. Think about the future people. JS 🙂

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgBIaIRRXKM

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