Connecticut’s tribal nations pushed back at Gov. Ned Lamont’s suggestion that they meet with MGM Resorts International to discuss the possibility of expanding the state’s gaming industry to include nontribal entities.
State law only allows gaming on tribal lands and the legislature would need to change the law to enable MGM Resorts to open its proposed casino resort in Bridgeport. In an interview with the Hartford Courant, Lamont took on a wistful approach in having the situation settled amicably.
“It’s not just the small revenue opportunity,” he said. “It’s reality. I’ve got to get the tribes and MGM to figure that out. Let’s sit down, guys, and figure it out … We’ve talked to everybody. There’s no negotiations (formally yet). I just told everybody that if we’re sitting around in litigation in three years, it’s a waste of your time and my time.”
Uri Clinton, MGM Resorts’ president and chief operating officer at the Empire City Casino in Yonkers, issued a statement welcoming Lamont’s proposal. “We agree that such a discussion is in the state’s best interest and we are prepared to take him up on his suggestion immediately.”
However, the tribes issued their own joint statement that rejected Lamont’s idea.
“The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe are sovereign nations, with their own governments and laws,” the statement read. “For the last 20-plus years, those governments have had essentially treaties in place with the state of Connecticut that grant them exclusivity in exchange for 25 percent of their respective casino’s slot revenue, a deal that’s sent more than $8 billion to the state’s General Fund. Federal Law makes it clear exactly what happens if either side breaks these agreements. In contrast, MGM has no vested interest in Connecticut other than making sure any developments here don’t impact their interests in New York and Massachusetts … They are not credible and they should have no seat at any table where the future of an important Connecticut industry is being discussed.”