Eastern Connecticut Cannot Accept a Tribe Left Out of the Game

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Eastern Connecticut lawmakers “cannot accept” a gambling deal between Gov. Ned Lamont and the Mohegan Tribe, which leaves out the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

Lawmakers Want Both Tribes to Come to Agreement 

On Tuesday, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced that his administration made a deal with the Mohegan Tribe that could result in the legalization of online gambling and sports betting. However, 17 legislators were unhappy with the agreement and sent out a letter to Gov. Lamont asking the two tribal nations to reach an agreement by Sunday.

In the letter, they stated that although they are committed to modernizing gaming in the state, they couldn’t accept a deal that leaves out the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. If the agreement doesn’t include both nations, they will not support it, the letter explained.

On Tuesday, Chair of the Mashantucket Pequots, Rodney Butler, said that it was “extremely disrespectful” for the governor to announce the deal with only one of the tribes after Mashantucket Pequots have been discussing the deal for months. He said that the tribe wants to continue the negotiations, but they saw a “rounding error” for the state in it. Nonetheless, they see how important it is for their community’s future.

In a recent press conference, a group of state legislators stated that the gaming expansion in Connecticut would help fund a program, which would allow students to attend community college without incurring debt. 

The State Wants Both Tribes in the Agreement

In his statement on Wednesday, the chair of the Mohegan Tribe, James Gessner Jr., said that the tribe made a compromise to agree with Lamont because they didn’t want to miss out on the changes again, which will determine the state, the municipal, and tribal budgets. He said that they appreciate and respect the Mashantucket Pequots, and they need to go through their governmental process. He said that the tribe recognizes the three governments must make a deal that would need approvals from the General Assembly and the U.S. Department of Interior.

Last year Senator Cathy Osten discussed with colleagues Connecticut Jobs and Revenue Act, asking the two tribes to invest tribal money into a gaming facility in Bridgeport in exchange for the rights to online gaming and sports betting.

The state doesn’t want to fall behind its neighbors and wants to move forward with modernizing sports betting and gambling. Sports wagering is an exclusive right for the tribes. 

The governor’s chief of staff, Paul Mounds, stated that they agreed that the Mashantucket Pequots must be a part of any deal. He said that modernized gaming would provide future stability to the community and residents of the state. He wrote that the governor asked the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe to become a part of this agreement immediately.

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