Schaghticoke Tribal Nation files suit against Connecticut casino law

The Schaghticoke Tribal Burial Ground in Kent, Connecticut. Photo by Nettie Hill

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation is still trying to get into the casino game in Connecticut.

The tribe formed an entity to solicit bids for a casino but was told that it was ineligible under Special Act 15-7. The law restricts the process to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said last month.

Merrill is now the target of a complaint that was filed in federal court on Monday. Excluding the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation from the process violates the U.S. Constitution and the Connecticut Constitution, it alleges.

"By enacting a scheme that expressly and effectively provides that 'no others need apply,' the act is unlawfully discriminatory," the complaint reads. "Indeed, though the state has a legal obligation to treat equally and fairly, and to support equally, all sate-recognized Native Americans in Connecticut, the act deprives all Native Americans who are not members of the favored tribes of an equal opportunity to plan and develop a new commercial casino."

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

Chief Richard L. Velky held a press conference at the courthouse in Hartford to announce the suit. He acknowledged that MGM Resorts International, a non-Indian company, is helping fund the case, according to news reports.

MGM Resorts filed a similar lawsuit last summer because it can't participate in the process either. The company is building a $950 million casino in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, just a few miles from the Connecticut border.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe pushed for Special Act 15-7 out of concerns about the competition. They have yet to select a site for their casino and must return to the Connecticut Legislature for final approval.

Get the Story:
Schaghticokes file suit for casino rights (The Connecticut Post 3/7)
Schaghticoke Indians and MGM Team Up to Fight Casino Law (The Hartford Courant 3/7)
MGM Funds Schaghticokes' Lawsuit Against Third Casino Plan (WNPR 3/7)
Schaghticoke Tribe to Sue State Over Casino Plans (WWLP 3/7)
MGM helping fund Schaghticoke's lawsuit (The New London Day 3/7)
MGM-backed study finds southwestern Connecticut to be better location for 3rd casino than Hartford area near MGM Springfield (The Springfield Republican 3/3)

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