An aerial view of the site in East Windsor, Connecticut, where the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe are planning to build a new casino. The tribes will be demolishing an old movie theater to make way for the facility. Image: Google Earth
Compacts | Connecticut | Litigation

Tribes ready to start initial work on delayed casino in Connecticut

Initial work is slated to begin on a long-delayed and controversial tribally-owned casino in Connecticut.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe will begin demolition work by the end of the month, CalvinAyre.Com and The New London Day reported. Further details, though, don't appear to have been provided by Mohegan Chairman Kevin Brown during a conference call in which Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment discussed its first quarter operating results.

But Brown did allude to "obfuscation" at the federal level to the project. On the same day of the call, POLITICO reported on the high-stakes lobbying effort against the tribes, an effort led by MGM Resorts International, a rival non-Indian gaming company.

The tribes are building their casino in East Windsor. MGM is slated to open a commercial casino in neighboring Massachusetts, at a site only 13 miles away, by the end of the year.

The tribes had been hoping to debut their casino at around the same time but have yet to break ground due to delays caused by the Trump administration. The Department of the Interior has failed to publish notice of their updated gaming agreements in the Federal Register despite missing a deadline imposed by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

MGM has hired Gale Norton, a former Secretary of the Interior during the George W. Bush administration, and has enlisted friendly members of Congress to lobby against approval of the agreements. The firm also opened a Washington, D.C., office, POLITICO reported in its widely-read story.

A lawsuit is pending in federal court to force the publication of the gaming agreements. MGM, unsurprisingly, is seeking to intervene.

The tribes' new casino was authorized by state law. They do not need federal approval to open it.

But they modified their Class III gaming compacts to account for the development. It is those agreements that are being held up in Washington.

Read More on the Story:
Politico: MGM cock-blocking Connecticut’s third tribal casino (CalvinAyre.Com February 2, 2018)
MGM spends $3.8M lobbying in Hartford, but wins in Washington (The Connecticut Mirror February 2, 2018)
Demolition work for third tribal casino to begin this month (The New London Day February 1, 2018)
East Windsor casino hold up at the federal level (FOX61 February 1, 2018)