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NEWS 28 June 2017

Connecticut governor signs contentious tribal legislation into law

By Robert Simmons
Connecticut governor Dannel P.Malloy has today signed legislation into law which effectively brings to an end the ongoing dispute over the building of a new tribal casino in the state.

Public Act 17-89, An Act Concerning the Regulation of Gaming and the Authorization of a Casino Gaming Facility in the State, was passed by the state house and senate with bipartisan support. It called for the development of a casino in East Windsor and for that casino to be operated by a joint venture of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes.

Under the provisions, the development requires an initial payment of $1m to the state, which will receive 25% of the gross gaming revenues from video slots and other authorised casino games at the new facility. Of this revenue, 10% would be used to fund tourism in the state with the remaining 15% being retained by the state. Tribal leaders are also required to contribute $300,000 annually to address the issue of problem gambling in Connecticut.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, which already operate two casinos in south-eastern Connecticut intend to redevelop a disused movie theatre complex in East Windsor, Connecticut into a $300m casino.

The East Windsor casino development would be very near to the site of MGM Resorts International’s $950m casino development in neighbouring Springfield, Massachusetts due to open in 2018, a decision which has spurred a legal dispute between the state and the casino developer.

The signing into law follows a US circuit court judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit earlier this week by MGM Resorts International which claimed that the granting of permission to the two Connecticut tribes to build a casino on non-tribal land put MGM at a competitive disadvantage.

However, Governor Malloy was keen to put some distance between the bill and the legal wrangles, with MGM telling Fox News: “Make no mistake about it – the legislation I signed today is about jobs for the residents of Connecticut, and securing those jobs in our state.”

Despite the legislative victory, the journey is not over for the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes which still require various federal and local authorisations before they can begin construction at the end of the year.
RELATED TAGS: Land-Based | Industry | Legal & Regulatory | Casino
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