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Tribe Joins MGM in Fight Against Conn. Casino Plan

Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncastville, Connecticut.
Jessica Hill

The state of Connecticut is now facing a second federal lawsuit in response to an act it passed last year allowing the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to open a third casino in the state.

In August, MGM International sued the state. It plans to open a casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 2017.

On Monday, the chief of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation filed another lawsuit.

The Schaghticokes are based in Kent. They aren’t federally recognized, unlike the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, which run Foxwood Resorts Casino, and the Mohegan tribe, which runs Mohegan Sun.

The Schaghticokes were one of three tribes in Connecticut denied federal recognition. Governor Dannel Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen were among those who were opposed to their recognition.

Schaghticoke Chief Richard Velky says the state violated the constitution when it passed an act that awarded the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan exclusive rights to a third casino.

“It’s ironic that the state’s efforts to shut us out of federal recognition was because it didn’t want a third casino,” Velky says. “Now Connecticut wants to open its first commercial casino, but only to the exclusion of any other interested party.”

Velky says the act violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. That clause prohibits laws that give special privileges to one group but deny them to others.

That’s also the argument from MGM. The company says it’s giving the Schaghticoke financial assistance with their lawsuit. Last year MGM applied to build a casino in Connecticut, but they were rejected.

A spokesman for the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan says MGM is trying to steal jobs from Connecticut residents by blocking a new casino. Together, the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos employ more than 9,000 people.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.