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.”