The U.S. Department of the Interior is seeking the dismissal of the lawsuit filed by MGM Resorts International challenging the agency’s approval of a casino to be built in East Windsor.
The MGM suit, filed in August in a Washington, D.C. federal court, maintains that the Interior Department acted improperly in allowing the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes – which respectively operate the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos – to construct a new facility, Tribal Winds, to be operated as a joint venture called MMCT.
“Interior’s approval decisions establish an unlawful state-conferred monopoly over commercial gaming rights in Connecticut,” MGM Resorts said at the time. “These decisions also stand in the way of an open, competitive process that MGM believes would result in a better deal for the people of Connecticut. An open process would allow the state to evaluate competing proposals and choose the operator that offers the best investment opportunity, creates the most new jobs and economic expansion and maximizes revenue to the state.”
East Windsor is located about halfway between Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts, where MGM opened the MGM Springfield casino last summer. The company has also been trying to secure the rights to build and operate a casino in Bridgeport; those efforts have run into opposition from the tribes and various lawmakers.
In its motion to dismiss MGM’s lawsuit, Interior said that the company is using “inapplicable legal requirements,” arguing that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) cited by MGM is not relevant to the case because the nations are not looking to build a casino on tribal lands.
“As a result, contrary to Plaintiffs’ assertions, Interior was not required, in connection with the Amendments, to render a determination that the lands where the commercial facility will be located are eligible for gaming under IGRA,” the department said, “nor did Interior need to comply with regulations governing the acquisition of lands in trust for Indian tribes in connection with the Amendments.”
No indication has been given as to when the court might rule on Interior’s motion.