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Tribes push for Federal approval of new casino

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l representatives for the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan tribal nations have called on the US federal government to approve agreements to build a joint casino property in East Windsor, Connecticut.

Attorneys from Dentons and Drummond Woodsum have penned a letter to James Cason, Associate Deputy Secretary for the US Department of the Interior (DOI) in which they urge him to “perform his ministerial statutory and regulatory duty to publish notice of approval in the Federal register”

This latest move comes after a meeting of tribal and state officials with representatives of the DOI, in which the DOI chose to neither approve nor reject amendments to the tribe’s gaming compacts with the state of Connecticut. This is despite Secretary Carson providing the tribes with assurances that the compact’s passage by the DOI was virtually certain earlier this year.

Citing the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), the tribes representatives go on to add that: “IGRA allows the Secretary only two options once a compact has been submitted for review — he must either affirmatively approve, or affirmatively disapprove, within 45 days of receipt.”

“IGRA further requires that if the Secretary neither approves nor disapproves a compact, it is deemed approved to the extent it is consistent with IGRA 45 days after its submission to the Secretary.”

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 in June. 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.

The venture has been opposed by worldwide casino firm MGM Resorts who are opening an $950m casino property in nearby Springfield Illinois, provoking a bitter war of words between the tribes, the state and MGM.

In September MGM further stoked the dispute by launching a $675m rival bid to build a casino in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a bid which has been roundly dismissed by state officials as unnecessary.

This hasn’t stopped MGM from launching a massive digital and print advertising campaign in which it targets local residents with flyers highlighting the benefits of this new casino development, a move which it hopes will generate a groundswell of public support and force the states hand.


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