In Connecticut, a senior politician has reportedly called on the United States Department of the Interior to act “clearly and authoritatively” regarding whether it approves of the Class III casino being planned for the small community of East Windsor.
According to a report from The Day newspaper, senior United States Senator Richard Blumenthal made the appeal after the United States Department of the Interior sent a letter to the state’s Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation on Friday stating that any immediate action on its part “is premature and likely unnecessary”.
Provisionally named the Mohegan Sun Foxwoods East Windsor and being built by MMCT Venture, which is a partnership between the two tribes, the new casino received legislative approval in July after the state amended its existing gaming compacts with the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. However, the United States Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs subordinate must ultimately approve these modifications along with a maintained exclusivity provision before the new Hartford County gambling establishment can open.
“It’s incomprehensible to me that they failed to address this issue right now because the United States Department of the Interior has the responsibility to review the agreements,” Blumenthal reportedly told The Day. “The letter they sent is ambiguous and seems to delay a situation that should be addressed now rather than later.”
The Democratic lawmaker reportedly revealed that the letter was authored by Michael Black, Acting Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs for the United States Department of the Interior, and sent to Kevin “Red Eagle” Brown, Chairman for the Mohegan Tribe, and his counterpart for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Rodney Butler. He additionally declared that the correspondence was not shared with any Connecticut legislators but had been conveyed to a pair of Republican lawmakers from Nevada, United States Senator Dean Heller and Mark Amodei from the United States House of Representatives.
“We have completed our review of the amendment,” reportedly read the letter from Black. “We return the amendment to you to maintain the status quo as action on the amendment is premature and likely unnecessary. The amendment addresses the exclusivity provisions of the gaming procedures. We find that there is insufficient information upon which to make a decision as to whether a new casino operated by the Mohegan [Tribe] and the Mashantucket Pequot [Tribal Nation] would or would not violate the exclusivity clauses of the gaming procedures. The tribes have entered an agreement with the state whereby they have agreed that the exclusivity provisions will not be breached by this arrangement. Therefore, our action is unnecessary at this time.”
The newspaper reported that the letter was sent just days before Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International unveiled a plan that will see it seek legislative approval to build a $675 million casino and entertainment venue in Connecticut’s largest city, Bridgeport. This venue could ultimately feature a gaming floor offering approximately 2,000 slots and 160 table games as well as a 300-room hotel and a 700-seat theater.