Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman (D) speaks at the Mohegan Tribe's topping-off ceremony for an $80 million convention center at its Mohegan Sun facility in Connecticut. Photo: Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman

Mohegan Tribe believes Trump team accepted new casino despite murky response

The Mohegan Tribe believes the Trump administration has approved a new casino in Connecticut despite a seemingly ambiguous letter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

In a letter whose contents have been widely reported in the Connecticut media, the BIA said it didn't have enough information to determine whether the development will affect the tribe's existing gaming rights. Some have taken the response to indicate that the project is on shaky legal ground.

But Chairman Kevin Brown told The New London Day that the BIA's letter means its updated Class III gaming compact has been "deemed approved." The agreement would be considered completely legal if that's the case.

Although the BIA didn't respond to the paper's request for comment, the evidence appears to indicate Brown is right. The September 15 letter was delivered to the tribe 45 days after the updated compact was sent to the agency on August 2.

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, a compact is considered to be "deemed approved" if the BIA does not reject it within 45 days. The agreement would take effect once a notice is published in the Federal Register.

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

If Brown is right, a notice should be published in the next several days or couple of weeks. The Mohegan and Mashantucket tribes are planning to break ground soon in order to open the new casino in December 2018, The Day reported.

The tribes chose a site in East Windsor because it's located near the Massachusetts border. A $950 million commercial casino is due to open just across the state line by the end of 2018.

Closer to home, the Mohegans are completing an $80 million convention center at the Mohegan Sun gaming facility. The tribe held a topping-off ceremony on Monday for the 240,000 square-foot Exposition Center.

The Pequots are bringing more non-gaming amenities as well. A zipline and indoor karting center are due to open at the Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Read More on the Story:
Mohegan chairman says BIA's letters constitute approval of third casino (The New London Day September 25, 2017)
Mohegans cheer convention center project's progress (The Norwich Bulletin September 25, 2017)
Mohegan Sun to open new expo and convention center (WFSB September 25, 2017)
Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun casinos proceed with new attractions (MassLive September 25, 2017)
Mohegan Sun expo center adds jobs as project advances (The Hartford Business Journal September 26, 2017)

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