Future MGM lawsuit to stop CT casino has better chance to succeed

Site of the East Windsor casino

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) –  A legal setback for MGM, which is trying to stop a third Connecticut casino from being built just 20 minutes from Springfield.  22News discovered the legal battle is just beginning.

MGM is arguing that the tribes that run Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun should not have exclusive rights to casino opportunities off tribal land.   If Connecticut’s Governor approves the tribes’ East Windsor casino, MGM will have a much clearer path in court the second time around.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday handed MGM a loss in its fight to stop an East Windsor Connecticut Casino, as well as compete to a casino in southeastern CT.

The ruling left the door open for MGM to file another lawsuit if Connecticut’s governor signs off for a 3rd casino.  Basically saying MGM jumped the gun on the first lawsuit.  The justices wrote this in their ruling, “Our conclusion does not rule out the possibility that MGM’s alleged harm may at some future point become sufficiently imminent.”

Western New England University Constitutional Law Professor Arthur Wolf told 22News that MGM may have a better chance at succeeding if Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signs off on the East Windsor casino.  Wolf says MGM’s argument involves two provisions of the constitution, the Commerce Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

“The 2nd round they will because the 2nd round with legislation now pending before the Governor of Connecticut would give the tribes the exclusive right to develop a casino off tribal lands,” said Professor Wolf.

Here’s the back story.  The tribes that run Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are partnering to build a casino in East Windsor at a closed movie theater, to directly compete with MGM Springfield.  Connecticut lawmakers passed the bill, but the Governor has yet to approve it.  Connecticut’s attorney general warned the Governor it is risky.  

Professor Wolf told 22News, MGM may even be able to get an injunction to stop the tribes from even starting to build their East Windsor casino while a future lawsuit is pending

“The key thing here would be the probability of success and you have the Attorney General of Connecticut already saying there may be a substantial claim by MGM, that alone may be able to satisfy the element of probability of success,” said Professor Wolf.

MGM said in a statement they will continue to move forward with legal action.

“(This ) decision regarding the 2015 law, Special Act 15-7,  will not affect MGM’s future ability to challenge Connecticut’s new casino statute, Senate Bill 957,” said Uri Clinton, Senior Vice President and Legal Counsel, MGM Resorts.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has not said whether he plans to approve the East Windsor casino.