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Tribes turn tables on non-Indian company intent on derailing new gaming facility

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe are putting the pressure on a non-Indian gaming firm that's been trying to stop them from opening a new casino.

The tribes won state approval to operate a facility outside of the framework of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. They chose a site in the city of East Windsor in order to compete with a $950 million commercial casino going up just across the border in Massachusetts.

The backer of that project, MGM Resorts International, isn't happy and has been filing lawsuits, lobbying the Trump administration and even proposing a rival casino in hopes of derailing the effort. The tribes are now saying they should be at the table.

“It was the Legislature’s decision to move forward with only one site in the north-central Hartford region," the tribes wrote in a letter to key lawmakers, The Connecticut Post reported. Their site in East Windsor is in that region.

"If circumstances have changed and there is now real interest in putting a casino in Bridgeport, we want to be a part of that discussion,” the letter continued, referring to the city where MGM has floated plans for a casino.

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

The tribes and some politicians view the Bridgeport proposal as a ruse, noting that the city was chosen because MGM has agreed not to pursue a casino anywhere near its Massachusetts site. But the firm has told business leaders it intends to seek state approval for the project, The Hartford Courant reported.

The tribes, meanwhile, are suing the Trump administration for failing to take action on their revised gaming agreements. The Bureau of Indian Affairs received the documents on August 2 but failed to make a decision within 45 days, as required by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, a complaint filed in federal court states.

Exactly 45 days later, the BIA said it had "completed" review of the Class III gaming compacts in in a September 15 letter to the tribes. Yet a notice of that action has never been published in the Federal Register, the lawsuit alleges.

Though the agreements do not approve the new East Windsor casino, top political officials at the Department of the Interior raised concerns about the connection to the development, according to correspondence sent by the tribes prior to the filing of the lawsuit.

Read More on the Story:
Tribes Express Interest In A Bridgeport Casino (CT News Junkie December 7, 2017)
Tribes counter MGM, hinting at their bid for new casinos (The Connecticut Mirror December 6, 2017)
Tribes want to build Bridgeport casino: MGM: ‘We’ve got the best site’ (The Connecticut Post December 6, 2017)
Tribes Want Part Of Bridgeport Casino Plans (Bridgeport Patch December 6, 2017)
Mohegan Sun aims to expand CT reach with Bridgeport Arena deal (Hartford Business Journal December 6, 2017)
Casino expansion could be hot topic for lawmakers in 2018 (The New London Day December 6, 2017)
MGM, tribes open new fight over casino expansion in Connecticut (The Connecticut Mirror December 5, 2017)
MGM Resorts CEO Seeks Legislative Support For Bridgeport Casino (The Hartford Courant December 5, 2017)

An Opinion:
Dan Haar: Open casino debate on; may the best team win (The Connecticut Post December 6, 2017)

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