MGM Resorts broke ground earlier this year to build a mega-casino resort in Springfield, Massachusetts. The proposed casino in Springfield has been a cause for concern to the casino industry in the neighboring state of Connecticut.
The state gaming commission and tribal casino members were concerned that the new casino in Springfield would eat into their gambling profits as gamblers travel across the state. The Connecticut state gaming commission and tribal members had long discussions about constructing new casinos along the state border in an attempt to keep gamblers from going over to Massachusetts.
The Connecticut government made changes to its gambling laws and has recently permitted two Tribal casinos to construct new casinos near the state border in an effort to stop any casino revenue from flowing out of state. The approval of these two new tribal casinos has not gone down well with MGM Resorts as the company believes that the new amendments allowing the approval of two new casinos violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and is against the spirit of federal gaming.
MGM Resorts has filed a case in the U.S. District Court in Hartford, Connecticut stating that these two new tribal casinos could draw gamblers away from Massachusetts and in turn affect the revenue of MGM Springfield. Connecticut allows tribal casinos to operate on reservation land but recently changed its laws to allow the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to make use of private land to construct these two new casinos. The Connecticut government decided to change its laws and allow private land to be used for tribal casinos because it was interested in protecting Connecticut’s tribal casinos industry and also wanted to ensure that Connecticut casino jobs were protected.
In a statement, Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International president said
While our company is supportive of tribal gaming as permitted under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the law passed in Connecticut gives two preferred tribes an unfair and unjustified preferential treatment by designating them as the only entities, tribal or commercial, authorized to negotiate with cities and enter development agreements for a new commercial casino on non-reservation land in Connecticut
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler and Mohegan Tribal Council Chairman Kevin Brown stated that they were not surprised by the legal action taken by MGM Resorts. The tribal leaders stated that MGM Resorts is looking to prevent the state of Connecticut from protecting its casino revenue and employment opportunities and that the two tribes would join forces with the state government of Connecticut and fight MGM Resorts.