Interior Department Calls for Dismissal of MGM’s Casino Lawsuit

  • In August, MGM filed a lawsuit against the Interior Department.
  • The lawsuit challenged the approval of a satellite casino in East Windsor.
  • Interior Departments says MGM’s claims are unfounded.

A couple of months back behemoth gaming and hospitality operator MGM filed a suit against the United States’ Interior Department. This lawsuit claimed that the department had wrongfully approved gaming compacts for two proposed tribal casinos. The department’s amended compacts allowed the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to proceed with their plans for a satellite casino that will be located in East Windsor.

MGM’s lawsuit claims that the approval of the satellite casino which will be a joint venture called MMCT establishes “an unlawful state-conferred monopoly over commercial gaming rights in Connecticut.” Furthermore, the MGM officials are of the belief that the move is a deterrence to transparency and fair competition. This means that the residents of Connecticut may not receive the best possible deal.

“An open process would allow the state to evaluate competing proposals and choose the operator that offers the best investment opportunity, creates the most new jobs and economic expansion and maximizes revenue to the state,” reads a statement from MGM.

MGM’s interest in the matter was not surprising since it has been operating a casino in Springfield since August 2018. The casino has not been performing as expected and the East Windsor satellite casino is definitely going to make the competition even more intense. Besides, MGM also plans to set up yet another casino business in Bridgeport.

The Interior Department Weighs In

About a week ago, the Department of Interior responded by asking the federal judge that is supposed to be handling the lawsuit to dismiss it. According to the department, MGM’s claims hold no water since the casino operator is using “inapplicable legal requirements.” The department, however, admitted that the aforementioned legal requirements were related to the approval of changes to a couple of documents in March 2019. These two documents were vital to the finalization of the plans for the satellite casino.

The department’s motion state’s that its role only extends to tribal gaming under the gaming regulatory act, and “not state-sanctioned commercial gaming conducted under state or federal law, even if that gaming happens to involve Indian tribes.”

Moreover, the Department of Interior has argued that the approval of the changes to the legal requirements does not actually authorize gaming in the state. Instead, their purpose was to serve as confirmation that the operation of the satellite casino was not a violation of the tribes’ respective agreements with the state.

Speaking of agreements, the two tribes’ compacts with the state gives them exclusive rights to certain kinds of gambling. This is definitely a big win especially considering the growth of the gambling industry over the past year. There is no better way to beat competition than this. In exchange for giving the tribe’s exclusive rights, the state receives 25 percent of their slot machine revenue.

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