On Wednesday a motion was filed in federal court by the state attorney general’s office that requests a lawsuit filed by MGM Resorts in August be dismissed. The suit, filed by the developer of a new casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, challenges new legislation that was approved in June by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy. The bill allows tribal leaders of the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods to seek site proposals from municipalities that are interested in hosting a possible third casino near the state line.
MGM claims the new law is “unconstitutional” and in August filed a lawsuit against Malloy. According to the suit, the bill bars out-of-state competitors from developing a casino in Connecticut while giving the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes “preferential treatment.” That, according to the MGM suit, violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. Following the August suit, in September Assistant Attorney General Robert Deichert filed a motion requesting U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson to dismiss the lawsuit. The AG argued that there was no legal standing for MGM to sue.
However, a new filing on December 30 by Attorney General George Jepsen’s office in U.S. District Court in Hartford seeks dismissal of the MGM lawsuit claiming the company hasn’t been hurt by the new Connecticut law. In addition, while the legislation allows the two Connecticut tribes to seek site proposals for a possible commercial casino in the future, it does not mean approval to expand casino gambling past their respective Uncasville and Ledyard reservations has been received by the state. Deichert wrote in the filing, “The possible future commercial casino at issue has not been authorized and may never be authorized, and, even if it were, MGM cannot credibly allege that it would compete for [all potential sites] because MGM admits that it could not bid on a casino in most of Connecticut because of the 50-mile radius restriction.” The Hartford Courant was told by MGM spokesman Bernard Kavaler that the company is confident that it will be determined by the court that the legislation passed last year is “unconstitutional.”
MMCT Venture, formed by the two tribes in order to compete with MGM’s $950 million mega resort in neighboring Springfield, received five site proposals in October for its joint casino project and while missing a self-imposed December 8 deadline, the chairmen of the tribes that run Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun casinos said that the decision deadline can be flexible and a decision is expected by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, despite the downsizing and delays that plagued the Springfield casino project in 2015, demolition to clear buildings from the site downtown where MGM Resorts International plans to begin building the first casino in western Massachusetts, will start in mid-January.