Connecticut tribes push to open casino before non-Indian rival

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Chairman Rodney Butler, left, and Mohegan Tribe Chairman Kevin Brown. Photo from CT Jobs Matter

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe are sticking to an aggressive plan to open a third casino in Connecticut.

Though their new entity MM4CT, the tribes are expected to release requests for proposals next month, The Hartford Courant reports. Three communities -- Enfield, East Hartford and East Windsor -- are interested in hosting the development, the paper said.

Once a site is selected -- potentially by the end of November, the paper reported -- the tribes will go back to the Connecticut Legislature early next year for final approval. If the schedule holds, the new casino could be open by the end of the year, well ahead of a rival non-Indian facility in neighboring Massachusetts.

MGM Resorts International broke ground on an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield, just a few miles from the state line, in March but an opening isn't expected until September 2018, a year behind the original schedule. The company also recently revised plans for a hotel at the site, stirring criticism about its intentions.

The New England Casino Race: Tribal and commercial gaming facilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

Additionally, the company is suing the state of Connecticut, arguing that Senate Bill 1090 is unconstitutional because it essentially limits the new casino to the tribes. The state is seeking to dismiss the complaint, noting that MGM isn't allowed to pursue a development within 50 miles of Springfield for a period of 10 years under the license issued in Massachusetts.

H.3702, the Massachusetts Expanded Gaming Act of 2011, envisions three casinos in the Bay State, including one for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. It also authorized a non-Indian slot parlor -- the Plainridge Park Casino debuted in June.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the tribe's land-into-trust application on September 18, clearing the path for the First Light Resort and Casino in the city of Taunton. A groundbreaking is expected by spring of 2016.

Get the Story:
Clock Ticking As Enfield Starts Talking Casinos In Earnest (The Hartford Courant 9/28)
Map of Massachussetts' casino landscape still incomplete (The New London Day 9/27)
Reductions to Springfield casino plan raise concerns (The Providence Journal 9/27)

Some Opinions:
Susan Bigelow: Casinos in Northern Connecticut? Don’t Bet On It (CT News Junkie 9/25)
David Collins: Is MGM melting in Massachusetts? (The New London Day 9/27)
Editorial: A win for the Wampanoags (Metrowest Daily News 9/27)

Related Stories
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe gaming site officially put in trust (9/25)
Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority joins board of national group (9/25)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino ruling stirs shakeup of sorts (9/23)
Comedy venue departs one tribal casino for another in Connecticut (9/21)
Tribes in Connecticut report declines in slot machine revenue (9/15)
Editorial: Tribes in Connecticut unite to address casino threat (9/14)
Tribes formalize partnership for another casino in Connecticut (9/11)
Column: Another tribal casino in Connecticut is a 'no-brainer' (08/07)
Connecticut sued over law that paves way for new tribal casino (8/5)
Editorial: Something's gotta give in New England casino race (8/3)
Mohegan Tribe reports increase in profit from casino enterprise (07/30)
Connecticut tribes hope to debut casino ahead of nearby rival (7/17)
Non-Indian gaming company lashes out at Connecticut tribes (7/16)

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