Connecticut officials were granted an extension to respond to MGM Resorts’ lawsuit over favoring tribes to develop a third casino in the state while barring out-of-state competitors.
MGM Resorts International filed a lawsuit earlier this month in U.S. District Court in New Haven listing Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy as a defendant, saying a law he signed gives two tribes— the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans—preferential treatment in building the state’s third casino.
The lawsuit said that the Connecticut bill violated the constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, which bans discrimination based on racial preferences, as well as the Dormant Commerce Clause by favoring a pair of in-state tribes while banning any bids by out-of-state competitors.
MGM President Bill Hornbuckle claimed that his company applied for a casino license in the state after the passage of the act but was rejected.
Malloy, along with Secretary of State Denise Merrill and Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Jonathan Harris, will have until Oct. 1 to draft their defense, an extension to the original Sept 1 deadline.
“The undersigned has reviewed the Complaint and is in the process of drafting a responsive pleading,” the defendants said in the motion to Connecticut Federal District Court Judge Alvin Thompson. “However, due to the nature of Plaintiff’s claims and the press of other business in both the state and federal courts, the undersigned requires additional time to prepare an appropriate response.”
The bill in question allows the tribes to issue a request for proposals from municipalities expressing their interest to host the new casino, which is intended to compete with gaming facilities in neighboring states when it opens in 2017. The tribal casino will have a first-mover advantage by having first dibs on the region’s customers, who would already have loyalty cards and be building up points by the time MGM opens its doors in September 2018.
The suit is MGM’s fulfillment to its promise that it “would not go peacefully” to prevent the opening of Connecticut’s third casino.