Officials from Connecticut’s two casinos testified today that if the state allows Keno gambling it will be in violation of its revenue-sharing compact with the Indian tribes that run the casinos.
The state receives almost $400 million a year from the slot machines at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos.
Jackson King, counsel for Foxwoods, said the contract is an obligation that shouldn’t be ignored.
“Under the contract, the tribe doesn’t go to court at all. The payments just stop,” he said.
The state is considering a proposal made by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to launch Keno in up to 1,000 bars and restaurants statewide to bring in $60 million annually.
Deputy Attorney General Carolyn K. Querijaro told the Public Safety Committee launching Keno is a huge gamble.
“There’s no way we can say with any degree of certainty how a court would rule,” she said. “I am not a gambler but this seems to be a big gamble.”
The isue is whether Keno is considered a lottery or a casino game. Under the revnue-sharing compact, the state has the authority to implement any lottery game it chooses. The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have exclusive rights to casino games in the state.
Rell and the Connecticut Division of Special Revenue, which approves lottery games, contends offering Keno would not violate the state tribal agreements because it is a lottery game.
Mohegan Sun Director of Operations John Meskill said Keno is a casino game and would violate the contract. Jackson King, counsel for Foxwoods, said the casinos have sole discretion to operate such a game.
But Paul Young, executive director of DSR, said both casinos have Keno at their casinos and when they applied in the 90s to launch the games, they called the games themselves a lottery.
Read the CT Mirror’s story on the proposal here.