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US – Connecticut tribes get green light for East Windsor casino

By - 25 March 2019

Connecticut’s two tribes the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegans have finally received approval from the federal government for their off-reservation casino in East Windsor, which will be called Tribal Winds.

Rodney Butler, Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot, said they could now ‘move forward with construction on Tribal Winds Casino.’

“Today is a great day for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the State of Connecticut, especially given our 400-year history together. I applaud the actions of the Department of Interior and extend my sincerest gratitude to assistant secretary Tara Sweeney and the Office of the Solicitor at the Interior Department for their assistance in resolving this matter. Now that the approval of our Amendment is secured and our exclusivity agreement with the State of Connecticut is reaffirmed, we will move forward with construction on Tribal Winds Casino in East Windsor and preserve much needed jobs and revenue,” he said.

The two tribes launched the joint venture MMCT to help protect revenue at their existing Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino in south eastern Connecticut following the launch of MGM Springfield in neighbouring Massachusetts, which opened in August 2018.

The East Windsor property should have preceded the MGM opening whoever it has been bogged down in several lawsuits, one f which was demanding a competitive bidding process for the new casino.

State Senator Cathy Osten said: “Tribal Winds is now approved, and I look forward to the ribbon-cutting and the jobs it will bring to central Connecticut. I always thought this decision was just a matter of time, I just didn’t know how much time it would take.”

Democratic Governor Ned Lamont’s spokeswoman, Maribel La Luz, said: “We remain committed to working with the tribes toward a global resolution of all outstanding legal issues or obstacles that may arise out of this decision, including any lawsuits third parties may bring against the state law that now authorises MMCT to operate a commercial casino in East Windsor.”

Others believe this is just the beginning of the legal fall out.

Republican Joe Verrengia, warned: “MGM has been very clear of their intention to sue on the constitutional issues. That’s really where my concerns lie from the outset.”

Uri Clinton, MGM’s Senior Vice President and legal counsel, said MGM would ‘continue to pursue all legal options, including litigation, to defend our right to compete in Connecticut’ adding it ‘remains steadfast’ in believing Bridgeport is the best location for a commercial casino.

“A transparent, competitive process is in the state’s best interest,” he said.

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