American casino giant MGM Resorts International has again reportedly lost a federal court action that it hoped would stop the MMCT Venture tribal joint enterprise from following through on its plan to open a satellite gabling establishment in the small northern Connecticut community of East Windsor.
According to a report from the Hartford Courant newspaper, Wednesday saw the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit uphold a June 2016 ruling from the lower United States District Court for the District of Connecticut that the eastern state had not denied MGM Resorts International the chance to open a Connecticut casino when it gave MMCT Venture, which is a partnership between Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, permission to inaugurate its own new gambling establishment.
Last month saw Connecticut lawmakers pass Special Act 15-7, which finally gave MMCT Venture permission to open its Class III Hartford County gaming facility, but Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International has long opposed the project on the grounds that the process should have been competitive and given other firms the chance to bid for the state’s third casino license.
However, last week reportedly saw the three-judge federal court disagree and state that the legislation does not stop MGM Resorts International from entering into development agreements with specific municipalities just as MMCT Venture had done with East Windsor.
“MGM [Resorts International] and any other developers are permitted to negotiate with municipalities for contingent future gaming contracts,” read the ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
The Hartford Courant reported that the court additionally ruled that MGM Resorts International’s claim that it was kept out of the competition for a new Connecticut casino had been premature because it could not show at the time that it had any specific development plans for the state.
“A plaintiff still must show that he was denied an actual, rather than a conjectural, benefit (or that he sustained some other actual harm) in order to challenge a government action in a federal court,” read the ruling authored by United States Circuit Judge John Walker. “MGM [Resorts International], a corporation, has not alleged psychic or emotional harm stemming from the passage of Special Act 15-7 and it is doubtful that it could. Moreover, because MGM [Resorts International] has no concrete plans to negotiate for casino development rights in Connecticut, it is not “personally denied equal treatment” by the allegedly discriminatory terms of Special Act 15-7 and, therefore, does not have standing to challenge it.”
Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, which was previously known as the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, is responsible for the giant Mohegan Sun development in south-eastern Connecticut while the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation runs the nearby Foxwoods Resort Casino. The pair has long promoted the East Windsor plan as a way to dilute the impact expected after the late-2019 opening of the $950 million MGM Springfield development being built by MGM Resorts International in neighboring Massachusetts.
“Our focus remains on saving the thousands of jobs and millions in state tax revenues that would have been lost had the Legislature not passed Senate Bill 957,” read a joint statement from Rodney Butler, Chairman for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, and Kevin Brown, Chairman for Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment. “We look forward to developing an exciting new casino and continuing to build our state’s economy in the weeks and months ahead.”