MGM Resorts International hits back in row over third Connecticut casino

American casino operator MGM Resorts International has reportedly responded to last week’s digital attack ad from MMCT Venture by circulating a letter penned by senior United States Senator John McCain that expresses concerns about the aboriginal joint venture’s plan to build a casino in the small Connecticut community of East Windsor.

According to a report from the local Hartford Courant newspaper, lawmakers in Connecticut are currently considering two pieces of rival legislation relating to the proposed expansion of casino gambling in the eastern state. The first would allow MMCT Venture, which is a partnership between the casino-operating Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, to open a satellite gambling facility in East Windsor although critics have pointed out that this arrangement could jeopardize Hartford’s existing gaming compact with the tribes.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority is responsible for the giant Mohegan Sun development in south-eastern Connecticut while the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation runs the nearby Foxwoods Resort Casino and their MMCT Venture enterprise has long promoted the East Windsor plan as a way to dilute the impact expected after the late-2019 opening of the $950 million MGM Springfield development being built by Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International in neighboring Massachusetts.

The newspaper reported that the second piece of proposed legislation would initiate a competitive process and allow private operators to join with the two tribes in submitting potential bids for a third Connecticut casino. MGM Resorts International is pushing this option and would like to build a gambling venue in south-western Connecticut around Bridgeport, which is the state’s largest city and only about 50 miles from New York City and its over 8.5 million residents.

The Hartford Courant reported that McCain’s letter was sent to the United States Department Of The Interior and its Bureau Of Indian Affairs and asks the administration of Republican president Donald Trump to issue a non-binding opinion on the East Windsor plan and the potential impact such a scheme would have on Connecticut’s gaming compact with the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

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The Democratic administration of previous president Barack Obama reportedly issued a similar non-binding opinion a year ago that stated that Connecticut’s current gaming compact, which sees the two tribes hand over 25% of their slot revenues to the state each month, would not be jeopardized by the East Windsor development.

Eighty-year-old McCain has represented the western state of Arizona in the United States Senate since 1987 and was a principal author of the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. In his letter, the Republican reportedly declares that he is concerned that the previous opinion “is being construed as the [United States Department Of The Interior’s] tacit approval for their project” and requests the United States Department Of The Interior to rescind the ruling.

In response, MMCT Venture has reportedly issued a statement highlighting a number of errors in the McCain letter including one that defines the planned East Windsor development as an “off-reservation” casino instead of a commercial enterprise and locates its site near Connecticut’s border with New York and just “a few miles from New York City”.

“This letter is nothing more than an eleventh-hour tactic by MGM [Resorts International] to stall our growing momentum,” read a statement from MMCT Venture. “We h 7BALL ave been working with the Bureau Of Indian Affairs for months and expect to see the fruits of that labor in the near future.”