Connecticut and Tribes Almost Reached a Gambling Deal, Emails Reveal

Emails between the Democratic Governor of Connecticut Ned Lamont and Rodney Butler -Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman – that have only recently been revealed by the Associated Press leaked information that earlier this year Gov. Lamont was close to signing an important gambling agreement with the state’s two federally recognized Native American tribes. 

The agreement in question that, as it turns out is off the table, would have allowed the tribes and the state’s officials to proceed to building together another casino in East Windsor, or in some other big integrated resort in Bridgeport while avoiding legal claims from MGM Resorts, the casino operator that is agains the state’s decision to legalize a future tribal casino that would be the third in the state.

After stepping into the position of governor in January 2019, Lamont started working towards reaching an agreement with the Native American tribes that own a big portion of the gambling industry in Connecticut.

The state’s officials wanted to negotiate regulations that wouldn’t contradict with Connecticut’s revenue-sharing agreement concerning the two native American tribes who run Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino located in the southeastern part of Connecticut.

At the moment, the tribes have exclusive rights to a part of the gambling products in the state, and in return pay a 25-percent state tax on the profits generated from slot-machines, which makes a yearly revenue of $270 million dollars for Connecticut. The tribes claim that their exclusivity rights also involve sports wagering.

With the new agreement, Gov. Lamont aimed to avoid legal issues caused by the tribes. He said he was trying to reach “a global gaming resolution that will avoid years and years of complex litigation.” 

Losing Hope for Optimistic Outcome with the Tribes 

According to the information in the emails negotiations seemed to be tough:

“I’m very disappointed at where we are – we put a good deal on the table (in my opinion) and we worked to make it work for your end – investing a lot of time and understanding there would be given and taken for both sides. Let’s discuss,” stated Gov. Lemont back in May.

Yet he was optimistic about the final outcome saying that eventully they will get what they are aiming to achieve.

Furthermore, in June, Butler also expressed a positive sentiment in an email talking about the second session of negotiations that would include Bridgeport members, the southeastern Connecticut legislative delegations and the tribes and was held by Joe Aresimowicz the Democratic House Speaker.

According to him it could eventually lead to the solution of the issues raised by Lamont.

Nevertheless, now at the end of the year, everybody appears to be much less optimistic regarding a positive outcome with the tribes since this second round of negotiations haven’t led to the desired agreement.

Lemont stated that at the moment he prefers to keep it simple and support the legislation in the new General Assembly session which would legalize sports betting and internet lottery games.

“Rather than maybe go for a whole hog, let’s find places where we think we can get some agreement,” he stated to reporters on Friday. “I’d like a global agreement. I’d like to solve everything for world peace. But in the meantime, I’m going to take what I can get.”

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