NEW YORK, NY (WWLP) – MGM’s lawyers were in a New York City appeals court fighting to block the process Connecticut is using to add a 3rd casino.
The tribes that run Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are narrowing down their choice for a new casino in the Hartford area. MGM had tried to block this in Connecticut Federal Court, but the judge ruled in favor of the state of Connecticut. MGM appealed and were back in court Monday morning.
Here’s the background. In 2012 and 2013, Mohegan Sun loses out on two opportunities to open casino in Massachusetts. First in Palmer, then in Revere. In 2013, MGM is awarded a casino license in Springfield. The tribes that run Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods then partner to vie for a 3rd casino in Connecticut, with the help of lawmakers they create Special Act 15-7. This allows the tribes to post a request for proposal for communities or developers to seek a casino in the Hartford area. This process is already a year behind schedule, with the tribes having most recently narrowed down their choices to Windsor Locks, East Windsor, East Hartford, Hartford and South Windsor.
Currently, under Connecticut law, only the tribes can operate a casino. This 3rd casino would not be on tribal land.
MGM under it’s current agreement with the city of Springfield, cannot operate another casino in a 50 mile radius. Where the tribes are seeking to put a 3rd casino falls within that 50 mile radius.
MGM has said that the state of Connecticut would make more money and save more jobs if they opened a 3rd casino closer to the New York border, MGM has even stated on the record they explored putting a casino in Bridgeport.
MGM is arguing that by allowing the tribes to exclusively negotiate a deal for a 3rd casino on non-tribal land, it would create a monopoly, allowing the tribes exclusive rights to pursue a 3rd casino. Connecticut argues this special act does not give the tribes priority and another law would still need to be passed to allow for a 3rd casino.
In the 2nd U.S. District Court of Appeals on Monday a panel of judges hammered both sides. One judge telling MGM’s lawyer that “You haven’t taken concrete steps to establish yourself as a casino.” Basically saying this lawsuit has no merit, unless Connecticut approves a law for a 3rd casino.
Another judge questioned the Connecticut Assistant Attorney General, (When would it become imminent your saying it’s too early, does MGM have to wait until a contract is signed and a statue has passed, allowing it, and at that point isn’t it too late?)
“It would not be too late,” said Assistant Attorney General Robert Deichert. He continues, “This competition is nowhere on the radar screen, certainly not imminent.”
A ruling on this appeal could take several weeks.