The plan to bring a small aboriginal casino to the northern Connecticut community of East Windsor has reportedly been indefinitely blocked after a federal judge declined to compel the United States Department of the Interior to approve proposed changes to the gaming compacts of the two tribes behind the scheme.
Project approved last summer:
According to a Monday report from The Connecticut Mirror news organization, the planned $300 million gambling enterprise, which had been provisionally named Mohegan Sun Foxwoods East Windsor, received its final state approvals last summer and was to be built by the MMCT Venture joint enterprise of the casino-operating Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
Amended gaming compacts:
The Mohegan Tribe is responsible via its Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment vehicle for the Mohegan Sun development in southeastern Connecticut while the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation runs the nearby Foxwoods Resort Casino. Under separate deals inked in the early 1990s, both reportedly handed over 25% of their current slot revenues to the state in return for a state-wide monopoly on gaming.
The Connecticut Mirror reported that the tribes had successfully lobbied to have this situation extended to their planned Mohegan Sun Foxwoods East Windsor despite concerted protests from opponents including the likes of MGM Resorts International, which began welcoming players to its new $960 million MGM Springfield facility in late-August. The Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation had purportedly hoped that their new gambling establishment would serve as a bulwark against such nearby competition while moreover ensuring that the state continued to receive tax revenues that last year amounted to approximately $270 million.
Federal inactivity prompts lawsuit:
After having their amended gaming compacts agreed at the state level, the tribes then reportedly began patiently waiting in vain for the United States Department of the Interior to sign off on the altered arrangements. After a four-month interval with no word, the administration of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy purportedly joined with the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation to file a federal lawsuit against the government department.
The Connecticut Mirror reported that this legal action had asked that Ryan Zinke, United States Secretary of the Interior, be compelled to approve the compact changes, which would have allowed the tribes to begin constructing their Mohegan Sun Foxwoods East Windsor.
Decision goes against plaintiffs:
However, in a 58-page decision issued on Saturday, Judge Rudolph Contreras from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia reportedly ruled that Connecticut and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation had no legal standing to compel Zinke to accept the revised gaming compacts. The 55-year-old judge additionally decreed that the United States Department of the Interior had less discretion when dealing with the Mohegan Tribe but that any changes to its arrangement must be accepted or rejected within a strict time period.
The Connecticut Mirror reported that the decision has effectively stalled the East Windsor casino plan indefinitely while Judge Contreras furthermore gave Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International the right to intervene should any of the plaintiffs decide to lodge an appeal.
Tribes hoping to find a solution:
In responding the ruling, the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation detailed that they would continue to seek an acceptable resolution with MMCT Venture spokesperson Andrew Doba proclaiming that his organization ‘remains committed’ to seeing the process through.
Doba to The Connecticut Mirror…
“We started this process because thousands of people will lose their jobs and the state will lose millions in revenue if we fail to compete with MGM [Resorts International] in Massachusetts. We are obviously disappointed with the court’s ruling and are currently reviewing our options.”
MGM Resorts International hails ruling:
For its part, MGM Resorts International, which has its Springfield facility only twelve miles from East Windsor, reportedly issued a statement that described the ruling as ‘a clear rejection of the tribes’ insistent efforts to obtain a no-bid commercial casino license in Connecticut.’
MGM Resorts International statement read…
“It has become increasingly apparent that the tribes’ promises of legal victory, no matter how often they are repeated, prove hollow.”