Artist's rendering of the Tribal Winds Casino, to be owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe in East Windsor, Connecticut. Image: Tribal Winds Casino

'Tribal Winds': Long-delayed gaming project back on the agenda in Connecticut

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe are renewing efforts to open a gaming facility in Connecticut.

The Tribal Winds Casino is unique in that it will be owned and operated by both tribes pursuant to state law. It is to be located in the city of East Windsor, far from the tribes' existing facilities.

"We are ready to roll, to start construction and begin creating jobs and revenue," Mohegan Chairman Kevin Brown said in a press release posted on

But the project, which was authorized at the state level more than 18 months ago, hit a snag in Washington, D.C. The Trump administration, for reasons that haven't been fully explained, refused to approve gaming agreements submitted by both tribes.

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

Only after the tribes went to court did the the Bureau of Indian Affairs publish notice of the Mohegan Tribe's agreement in the Federal Register, about 9 months later than required by law. The Pequot agreement, however, remains in limbo.

To account for the uncertainty, state lawmakers who support the project are hoping SB11 becomes law. The bill would eliminate the need for either gaming agreement to be approved by the BIA.

“There was some stymieing at the federal level that was political in nature more than policy,” Sen. Cathy Osten (D), the sponsor of SB11, told The Hartford Courant of the stalemate.

The tribes, along with others in Connecticut, believe a non-Indian gaming company is behind the holdup. MGM Resorts International opened MGM Springfield in neighboring Massachusetts last August. The site is less than 15 miles from East Windsor.

"This shovel ready facility will create jobs and bring in new revenue for the state the minute we break ground," Mashantucket Chairman Rodney Butler said.

The tribe's gaming agreement remains the subject of litigation in federal court and it also has been the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Office of Inspector General at the Department of the Interior. Former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who left the Trump administration on January 2, sat for two interviews as part of the inquiry, The Washington Postreported.

But a report has yet to be released publicly, almost 10 months after it was initiated. That's because the the Department of Justice picked up on the matter, Indianz.Com reported on December 15, along with other possible allegations of wrongdoing by Zinke and his political leadership team.

Zinke has denied any wrongdoing. He now works at a cryptocurrency company, VICE News reported.

Read More on the Story
With new brand name, the Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots launch campaign for East Windsor casino (The Hartford Courant January 28, 2019)
Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot Tribes announce name of new East Windsor casino (WTNH January 28, 2019)
Name, logo unveiled for proposed East Windsor casino (WWLP January 28, 2019)
Mashantucket Pequot, Mohegan Tribes Announce Name of Proposed East Windsor Casino (NBC Connecticut January 28, 2019)
Tribal Winds: East Windsor casino project has new name, new push from Foxwoods and Mohegan to compete with MGM Springfield (The Springfield Republican January 28, 2019)

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