The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations crossed the finish line Wednesday on the last day of the General Assembly’s annual session, victors in a two-year struggle for authorization to jointly develop a casino to compete with the MGM Resorts International casino under construction in Springfield.
The Connecticut legislature’s long debate about the implications of expanding casino gambling has come down to a stark question of transactional politics: What do a relative handful of urban Democratic legislators want in return for allowing the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans to jointly develop the state’s third casino, its first off tribal lands?
MGM Resorts International is closing its intense lobbying campaign against a commercial casino proposed by tribal competitors by returning to its original strategy: a challenge to the constitutionality of the legislature’s awarding a license without competition.
If the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes want the House to join the Senate in granting them the right to build a casino off tribal lands, they must pay for the privilege and give Connecticut a measure of “budgetary relief,” House Democratic leaders said Wednesday.
The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes won the first half of their home-court fight with MGM Resorts International over the rights to gaming expansion in Connecticut as the Senate voted 24-12 early Wednesday for a bill authorizing the tribes to jointly develop the state’s first casino off tribal lands.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy moved forcefully Friday for the first time to focus the legislature’s debate on casino expansion, saying the only measure he would consider signing is a bill granting the owners of Connecticut’s two tribal casinos permission to build a commercial casino in East Windsor to compete with MGM Resorts International in Springfield.
Proposals to expand casino gambling in Connecticut cleared the Public Safety and Security Committee on Wednesday in votes signifying a consensus that the bills were too big to die in committee, not a measure of the support for opening the state to commercial casinos off tribal tribal lands.
Rep. Daniel S. Rovero, D-Killingly, said he arrived in Hartford for an all-day public hearing Thursday seeking clarity on the risks and benefits of granting the tribal owners of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun the right to jointly develop a casino off tribal lands without considering other bidders. He left disappointed, unsure if the state was getting a good deal and unhappy the state was providing no independent analysis of casino expansion.
In a political consultant’s conference room on the 16th-floor of CityPlace II, an MGM Resorts International executive named Uri Clinton sipped a late-afternoon Starbucks coffee, still jet-lagged after his latest red-eye flight from Las Vegas to Hartford. In Clinton’s world, the action right now is in Connecticut’s capital.
Attorney General George Jepsen, who derailed a fast-moving campaign for casino expansion in 2015 by raising questions never fully answered, has been asked by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for a formal opinion on the ramifications of allowing Connecticut’s two federally recognized tribes to jointly develop a casino off tribal lands.
The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations signaled Friday with a real-estate announcement and a visit to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that they are ready to press for legislation authorizing a casino in East Windsor or Windsor Locks to compete with an MGM gambling resort under construction in Springfield.
Connecticut’s attorney general’s office asked a federal judge Wednesday to call what it suggests is a cheeky legal bluff by MGM Resorts International to protect the casino MGM is developing across the border in Springfield, Mass.
Connecticut’s two tribal casinos staged a ceremony Thursday marking the start of a formal search for a community willing to accept a new gambling hall to maintain market share against competition coming to Massachusetts.
The owners of the Mohegan Sun casino are interested in developing one or more new gaming facilities in Connecticut to keep customers being targeted by new casinos under development in Massachusetts. And while the Mohegan tribe hasn’t fully developed any proposal, or settled on any specific locations, it does believe its most aggressive new competitor lies in Springfield, Mass., where a new $800 million casino is being developed.