Schaghticoke Tribal Nation drops lawsuit but still pushes for casino

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

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation is dropping a short-lived lawsuit that challenged the bidding process for a new casino in Connecticut.

But Chief Richard Velky hasn't given up hope. He said the tribe will focus its efforts on the 2017 legislative session, when lawmakers will consider whether to move forward with the casino.

“While Schaghticoke Tribal Nation (STN) believes that Special Act 15-7 violates the United States and Connecticut Constitutions in several ways, including by denying STN a fair and equal opportunity to compete for the State’s first commercial casino, we are choosing to focus our resources on the upcoming 2017 legislative session, which will present a critical opportunity for the General Assembly to fix Special Act 15-7’s anticompetitive and unconstitutional framework," Velky said in a statement posted on the tribe's website.

Special Act 15-7 opened the door for a new casino but bidding is restricted to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe. The Schaghticokes claimed they were being unfairly excluded in the lawsuit, which was being supported by MGM Resorts International, a non-Indian gaming firm.

MGM raised similar exclusion arguments in its own lawsuit. A federal judge disagreed but the firm has taken the dispute to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

"STN will continue to evaluate its options for litigation after the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rules on MGM’s appeal, and after the 2017 legislative session," Velky said in his statement.

MGM is building a $950 million commercial casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, just a few miles from the Connecticut border. That facility will face competition if the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes secure approval for their own project.

The two tribes are looking at sites near the border but they have missed their own deadlines to select a host community. They will still need authorization from the state legislature before moving forward.

One location under consideration is the Bradley International Airport. Officials there envision a 200,000 square-foot facility, The Connecticut Post reported, based on documents obtained by MGM through a freedom of information lawsuit.

All three tribes have been recognized in Connecticut since Colonial times. The Schaghticokes lack federal status.

More on the Story:
Tribe Drops Lawsuit Challenging Conn. Casino Law (WSHU 8/4)
Schaghticoke Tribe Withdraws Casino Lawsuit (CBS Connecticut 8/4)
Schaghticoke tribe drops MGM-funded lawsuit against Connecticut casino law (MassLive 8/4)
Airport Authority plans major casino for Bradley International (The Connecticut Post 8/5)

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