MGM loses bid to halt Connecticut tribes’ third casino
Casino operator MGM Resorts has lost yet another round in its quest to overturn a Connecticut law granting a third casino to local tribal gaming operators.
In June, a federal appeals court rejected MGM’s bid to overturn a Connecticut court’s dismissal of MGM’s challenge of a state law authorizing a joint venture casino by the state’s two casino operators, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, who respectively operate the Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Sun gaming venues.
MGM had argued that the law, which allows the tribes to build and operate a casino off tribal lands, didn’t allow other commercial casino operators to bid for the third casino license, and thus ran contrary to the US Constitution’s Equal Protection and Commerce clauses.
On Monday, The Day reported that the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit had denied MGM’s bid for a rehearing of its appeal. The Court offered no reasoning behind its decision to reject MGM’s pursuit of a rehearing by either the same three-judge panel that ruled against the company in June or by a full slate of Court justices.
MGM has yet to publicly comment on the Court’s rejection of its request. The tribes have yet to begin work on their new East Windsor casino, pending formal approval of the project by the US Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The tribes sought their MMCT Venture project in the northern portion of the state as a hedge against MGM Springfield, which is set to open next year just across the border in Massachusetts. The tribes believe MGM’s shiny new facility will siphon off Connecticut gamblers who otherwise would have opted to patronize the tribal venues, and the new East Windsor casino is intended to give these gamblers less reason to head out of state.
To ensure Connecticut legislators were on board with the third casino plan, the tribes employed a carrot and stick approach. If legislators approved the plan, the tribes offered the state a 25% share of the venue’s slots and table game revenue. If the state opted for MGM’s preferred option of an open casino tender, the tribes said they’d halt payments of the state’s 25% slots revenue share from their existing two casinos.
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