Federal Regulators Finally Clear Path for Tribal Casino

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A proposed joint tribal casino venture in Connecticut is finally back on track thanks to the federal regulators who have finally moved to clear the way for the tribal operators. The tribes, who are currently operating the Mohegan Sun and the Foxwoods Resort Casino, have partnered for this venture that is set to bring the first commercial Connecticut casino in East Windsor.

“The Department of the Interior has made effective the Tribal-State agreement amendments which it was obligated to do months ago.   We are hopeful that this development allows the project to now move forward in the interest of tribes and the state.  As the Inspector General continues its investigation, that timing will no doubt become a new focus,” said some of the state lawmakers in a statement.

So far, one of the few things that remain is a notice that is set to be published on June 1 by the United States Department of the Interior detailing how the concerns pertaining to the partnership have been satisfied – the Mohegan tribe’s revenue sharing agreement with Connecticut will remain intact even once they partner with Mashantucket Pequots-operated Foxwoods Resort Casino. The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on May 31 announced that a revised gaming compact between the state’s government and the Mohegan tribe would be taking effect.

Meeting the Requirements of State Law

While the amendment did not mention the state’s compact with Foxwoods Resort Casino, Andrew Doba, the tribal joint venture’s spokesperson on Thursday confirmed that the Department of the Interior had taken everything into account and thus it would be publishing a similar notice for the Mashantucket Pequots in the “very near future.” Once these notices are published, the last requirement of the Connecticut state law that was passed last year will have been satisfied – the law permitted, for the very first time, the expansion of casino gambling in other places other than the tribal lands.

“Our goal has never changed,” Doba commented. “We want to do right by Connecticut and to preserve the strong relationship between our tribal nations and the state. Today’s decision is the latest step in our overall goal to preserve thousands of good paying jobs and millions in state tax revenue.”

Both the Mohegan’s and Mashantucket Pequot’s gaming compacts received major amendment last year with the tribes being incentivized to provide the state of Connecticut with 25 percent of gaming revenue from the East Windsor casino. Despite this being a pretty straightforward arrangement, the BIA slow rolled that process thus prompting the state and the tribe to sue the federal regulators over the same in December last year.

Apparently, the delay was influenced by serious lobbying by MGM Resorts who felt that they had been denied the opportunity to establish a rival casino in Bridgeport. The recent development that favors the tribes has not triggered any notable reaction from MGM Resorts this far, even though the disgruntled operator has proven its willingness to use any legal means to thwart the East Windsor project.