MGM Resorts was very excited when it received approval to build a mega-casino resort in Springfield, Massachusetts. MGM was counting on the Massachusetts gambling industry and also expected gamblers from the neighbouring states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to frequent its Springfield casino.
The Connecticut Gambling Commission was also concerned with the proposed MGM Springfield casino as the commission believed that Springfield casino would eat into its gambling revenues by encouraging gamblers to cross the state border. The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes submitted a proposal to construct two new casinos near the state border in an effort to prevent Connecticut gamblers from crossing over to Massachusetts.
Connecticut gambling law allows Indian tribes to construct and operate casinos only on reservation land. The new casino proposal submitted by these two tribes was to construct casinos outside of reservation land. Connecticut decided to change its casino laws and allow these Indian tribes to construct new casinos on private land in an effort to complete with MGM’s Springfield casino and keep gambling revenue within Connecticut.
The decision to amend existing gambling laws in Connecticut in order to give these two Indian tribes permission to use private land for their casino construction has not gone over well with MGM Resorts. The company has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Hartford, Connecticut stating that the amended laws were not in agreement with the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and was not in line with the spirit of federal gaming.
In a statement, Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International president said “While our company is supportive of tribal gaming as permitted under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the law passed in Connecticut gives two preferred tribes an unfair and unjustified preferential treatment by designating them as the only entities, tribal or commercial, authorized to negotiate with cities and enter development agreements for a new commercial casino on non-reservation land in Connecticut”.
Connecticut. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy stated that the laws governing tribal casinos were amended in Connecticut because legislators were looking after the best interests of the state and wanted to ensure that Connecticut’s casino industry did not decline and tribal employment opportunities were protected at all times.
Mohegan Tribal Council Chairman Kevin Brown and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler released a joint statement confirming that they will throw their full support behind the Connecticut government and fight the lawsuit filed by MGM Resorts.