A compact amendment that will see the the tribal joint venture in East Windsor, Connecticut has finally been given approval by the Bureau of Indian Affairs after more than a year of stalling.
Following more than a year of incomprehensible delay the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has finally acted to positive effect regarding the tribal joint casino project in East Windsor, Connecticut.
The BIA had stalled for more than 12 months over a verdict that was to be delivered within 45 days but has now ruled that the existing gaming compact between the state and Mohegan tribe is de facto “taking effect”.
Due to the East Windsor property being a joint venture between the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequot tribe situated off of reservation land an amendment was required for the former’s revenue sharing agreement, with this further needing ratification from the BIA.
Such had to be completed before final approval for the project, which has already broken ground, was to be given by Connecticut’s state government.
“We are pleased that the department is taking this step and we expect similar action on the Mashantucket Pequot tribal amendments in the very near future,” said Andrew Doba, a spokesman for the tribes’ joint venture, MMCT. “Our goal has never changed. We want to do right by Connecticut and to preserve the strong relationship between our tribal nations and the state. Today’s decision is the latest step in our overall goal to preserve thousands of good paying jobs and mil- lions in state tax revenue.”
The DIA had come under significant fire for its inaction with some quarters claiming that this was an extension of a Presidential directive.
Ryan Zinke, who was appointed Interior Secretary by Donald Trump bore the brunt of such criticism after deciding to throw out expert advice and advocate a stalling of process instead.
It is believed that the existing prejudices of the President, and lobbying efforts from MGM which is preparing to open a competing property across the border in Springfield, Massachusetts swayed the department’s view.
It is reported that Zinke’s deputy secretary had met with MGM lobbyist, Gale Norton, in the build up to the decision to deny the litany of expert advice on the issue and that the commercial operator is now less than pleased with the due course of legality.
“Today’s Federal Register notice raises more questions than it answers,” MGM said. “The notice provides no supporting reasoning and contradicts not only the Interior Department’s prior ruling, but also the clear limits on off-reservation gaming imposed by federal law.
After consulting with our attorneys, we can find no legal justification for the Interior Department’s unprecedented action. In an effort to shed light on these serious legal questions, MGM will file a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover the process and inputs that led to today’s notice.”