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NEWS 22 June 2017

MGM loses latest round in fight with tribal casino developers

By Robert Simmons
The 2nd U.S Circuit Court of Appeal in Manhattan have agreed that judges in Connecticut were right to dismiss the MGM Resorts International lawsuit against the state following its approval of a casino development by the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes.

MGM filed an appeal with the court, claiming it was unconstitutional and that it was placed at a competitive disadvantage after Connecticut state officials approved the creation of a special registration pathway which allows both tribes to build casinos on non-tribal land.

However appeal court judges dismissed their lawsuit, calling MGM’s fears speculative and citing the absence of any plans by MGM to develop a casino in Connecticut as enough evidence that no competitive disadvantage existed to the developer.

Judges also agreed with the Connecticut court’s conclusion that the presence of the special legislation favouring the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes does not prevent other casino developers from entering the Connecticut casino market.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, which already operate two casinos in southeastern Connecticut have stated their intention to redevelop a disused movie theatre complex in East Windsor, Connecticut into a $300m casino.

Its new casino development would be very near to the site of MGM Resorts International’s $950m casino development in neighbouring Springfield, Massachusetts which is due to open in 2018.

MGM officials have publicly voiced their opposition to moves by Connecticut legislators to further the tribes’ development, with this legal challenge being the latest twist in what has become an ongoing three way battle between the tribes, the state and MGM.

In a statement following the ruling, MGM Resorts senior vice president and legal counsel Uri Clinton, who is spearheading the groups opposition efforts said: “We view today's ruling as nothing more than a matter of timing and remain undeterred in our goal of having the opportunity to compete in Connecticut”.

Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, Rodney Butler and Mohegan Tribal Council chairman Kevin Brown released a joint statement welcoming the ruling: "We're gratified that the Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of MGM’s lawsuit.

Our focus remains on saving the thousands of jobs and millions in state tax revenue that would have been lost had the legislature not passed SB 957. We look forward to developing an exciting new casino and continuing to build our state’s economy in the weeks and months ahead".

RELATED TAGS: Land-Based | Industry | Legal & Regulatory | Casino
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