Connecticut’s two tribal gaming operators have selected East Windsor as the site of their proposed joint venture casino operation.
On Monday, the MMCT joint venture of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes announced that it will build its new $300m casino in East Windsor, a town of around 11k souls in Hartford County on the state’s northern border with Massachusetts.
On Saturday, East Windsor’s Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the tribes’ setting up shop in their backyard. MMCT has agreed to pay the town $3m upfront, plus an additional $3m per year on top of regular tax payments, which are expected to total $5.5m per year.
In addition, MMCT has agreed to hire at least 4% of its workforce from East Windsor, while at least 15% of casino staff must live within a 25-mile radius of the venue.
The tribes, which operate the state’s two tribal gaming venues, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino, intend the East Windsor casino as a sponge to soak up gambling dollars that might otherwise head up the I-91 and across the Massachusetts border to MGM Resorts’ in-development MGM Springfield, which is slated to open in September 2018.
The legality of the MMCT project, which will operate outside either tribe’s federally recognized territory, remains a hotly disputed issue. MGM, which is fighting the MMCT project in court, issued a statement on Monday calling the tribes’ selection of East Windsor from a list of five potential community hosts “a bad reality show.”
MGM reminded state residents that Connecticut has yet to resolve the “constitutional issues associated with giving away a valuable state license in an anti-competitive non-bidding fashion,” nor has MMCT explained “if or how they could get the required amendments to their compact approved by the new administration in Washington, DC.”
COULD TRUMP STOP THE TRIBES OUT OF SPITE?
MGM isn’t kidding when it suggests the new regime in DC could prove a major barrier to the MMCT plans, considering President Donald Trump’s sharp-elbowed dealings with tribal gaming operators when he was still in the casino business in the 1990s.
In 1993, the National Indian Gaming Association filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over “obscene, indecent and profane racial slurs against Native Americans” Trump made in an interview with disc jockey Don Imus while talking about his rivals. The tribe Trump allegedly disparaged? The Mashantucket Pequots.