MGM Sues To Stop Connecticut From Awarding Commercial Casino Bids To Tribes | Connecticut Public Radio

MGM Sues To Stop Connecticut From Awarding Commercial Casino Bids To Tribes

Aug 7, 2019

MGM Resorts International is continuing to fight tribal gaming expansion in Connecticut, this time with a lawsuit against the federal government.

Ever since then-Governor Dannel Malloy signed legislation on June 27, 2017 that gave both the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes a license to build a casino off tribal land in East Windsor, MGM has challenged their right to do it in the absence of a competitive bidding process.

MGM is now taking their case to court.

The Department of Interior ended a 21-month saga this past March when it finally OK’d a deal between the state of Connecticut and a joint tribal venture to build Connecticut’s third casino in East Windsor. 

Originally, the DOI was given just 45 days to approve or deny changes made to gaming compacts in Connecticut resulting from the awarding of the new license. MGM had lobbied the department hard to keep the Mashantucket Mohegan Connecticut Venture, or MMCT – featuring the tribes that run Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun respectively – from getting the federal permission it needed to have casino gaming off tribal land.

Now, as a proposal to build a separate MMCT facility in Bridgeport floats around the Connecticut General Assembly, MGM has sued the Interior Department in court. The filing includes language that blames the department for “facilitating” off-reservation gaming by the venture – not just in East Windsor – but anywhere in Connecticut.

In a written statement, MGM accused the DOI of preventing it from “competing on equal terms in Connecticut.”

The department declined to comment for this story.

Andrew Doba, a spokesman for the MMCT Venture, took a shot at MGM in an email, saying that the gaming giant has filed suit because “that’s what MGM does.”

“We should also all remember the last time MGM waded into the DC swamp it resulted in multiple investigations, the convening of a grand jury and the resignation of a cabinet secretary,” Doba wrote.

The secretary referenced by Doba is Ryan Zinke, the former interior secretary who resigned last December. Two months after he stepped down from his post, the Connecticut Mirror reported that Zinke was being investigated for his inability to act on the amendments made to the gaming compacts between the state and the tribes.

Speaking on Connecticut’s behalf, Gov. Ned Lamont said the lawsuit only strengthens the case he’s been making that the state needs to reach a “global gaming resolution” with all gaming expansion stakeholders -- one that he said will protect the state from complex litigation.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court. An MGM spokesperson told Connecticut Public Radio that there’s not yet a timetable for when the case will be taken up.