March 8, 2016

Schaghticoke lawsuit against state backed by MGM

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation's federal lawsuit against the state is being financially backed by MGM, which is also pursuing a lawsuit against the state.

The suits revolve around the expansion of casino gaming in Connecticut. Legislation passed last year allows a joint venture by the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes to study opening a third jointly operated casino in Greater Hartford. The intent is to dampen the impact of a casino MGM is opening just over the border in Springfield, Mass., in 2018.

Bernard Kavaler, a Connecticut spokesman for MGM, quoted Alan Feldman, MGM executive vice president, global government and industry affairs, as saying at a news conference outside federal court in Hartford yesterday, "We've entered into a collaboration because we together believe that Special Act 15-7 is unconstitutional and it denies both of us a fair, equal opportunity to compete for Connecticut's first commercial casino. The act discriminates against MGM and the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation in similar ways."

Kavaler said the two suits are similar but hold slightly different positions so they won't be combined. Both suits are in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut in Hartford.

Andrew Doba, a spokesman for MMCT Venture, the company formed by the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes, said, "Chief Velky finally revealed that his operation is being bankrolled by MGM. This startling revelation - which according to the chief was a year in the making - should raise a red flag for anyone who is concerned about MGM's plan to steal jobs from Connecticut residents."

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