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Federal Government Approves Third Connecticut Casino

Hartford Area Casino Should Help Tribes Keep Revenue In Connecticut


MGM Springfield in Massachusetts opened its doors eight months ago just six miles from the Connecticut border, and has caused the state’s two casinos to deal with drastic year-over-year decline in their slot revenue.

After a lengthy battle with the U.S. Department of Interior, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes have been approved by the federal government to move forward with their joint venture and build a third casino just north of Hartford.

The tribes are hoping that by placing a casino in between the state’s capital and their main competition, they can keep revenue in the state and away from MGM. They formed a joint venture in 2017 called MMCT to build a third casino in East Windsor, which they have named Tribal Winds Casino.

The state agreed to the joint venture, but the Department of Interior, which is the agency in charge of Native American affairs, would not allow the tribes to break ground.

Ryan Zinke resigned as Secretary of the Interior at the start of the year and less than three months later, the DOI has changed their tune, approving the venture on Thursday afternoon.

“Today is a great day for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the State of Connecticut,” said Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, Rodney Butler to the Connecticut Mirror. “I applaud the actions of the Department of the Interior and extend my sincerest gratitude to Assistant Secretary Tara Sweeney and the Office of the Solicitor at the Interior Department for their assistance in resolving this matter.”

The DOI’s approval of the new project comes just a couple weeks after representatives of the tribes threatened to stop making payments to the state if they weren’t given a piece of the possible sports betting pie that could be up for grabs in Connecticut later this year.

There is no real timeline available for when the casino will be built. The tribes have yet to procure construction financing and have been bringing significantly less revenue than before.

When the state’s gaming commission released their February revenue reports last week, Foxwoods netted $34.2 million in revenue, down eight percent from February 2018, while Mohegan Sun took in $43.5 million in revenue, down about seven percent year-over-year.

Those numbers have become the norm and a larger trend is taking shape. In terms of revenue, January was the worst month the tribes have seen in decades with Foxwoods netting $31 million and Mohegan taking in $40.7 million.

The state government taxes the tribes 25 percent on revenue, which gives the state just as much incentive as the tribes to make Tribal Winds a success.

Photo Credit: MMCT Venture