Connecticut tribes gain nod from BIA on joint venture property

tribes Lawrence Larry Roberts

The two federally recognised tribes in Connecticut have submitted a letter from a leading official at the Department of the Interior to state lawmakers, which they claim lends support to the prospective construction of an additional tribal casino.

As reported by the Associated Press, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes received assurance from acting assistant secretary for Indian Affairs Lawrence Roberts (pictured) that a third tribal property – which the tribes have proposed as a joint venture between them – would not invalidate or affect the existing tribal gaming legislation.

The gaming compacts of the two tribes sees them pay 25 per cent of all slot revenues to the state, in return for EGM exclusivity. Casinos in Connecticut are the sole domain of the two tribal operators, but new regional competition is soon to come into play across the state line in the form of a $950m (E837m) MGM Resorts property, slated for construction in Springfield, Massachusetts. Citing fears of player cannibalisation, the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes have proposed building a third tribal property to be situated close by, in Northern Connecticut.

Whilst Roberts has stressed that his letter should not be considered a preliminary decision nor the official opinion of the administration, leaders from both tribes nevertheless distributed copies of his letter to members of the Connecticut General Assembly last month.

“Working together with state leaders, we’re fighting to build a third gaming facility and mitigate these losses,” said Mohegan Tribe chairman Kevin Brown. “This confirmation from the Bureau of Indian Affairs is an important step in the process, and we want to thank everyone for their work.”