Tribes: East Windsor Casino On Ice

Thursday 10th December 2020

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun say they won't build a casino in East Windsor -- for now. The controversial project that united the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes could be the casualty of a bigger plan that involves exclusive rights to operate sports betting in Connecticut.

In a written statement, a spokesman for the joint Mashantucket Mohegan Connecticut venture said the best thing the tribes could do at a time when they're dealing with the fallout from COVID-19 is to focus on the success of their two existing casinos.

While the tribes aren't saying the project is dead, the timing is interesting -- particularly as Gov. Ned Lamont continues to dangle a possible sports betting deal to the Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots as a way to neutralize litigation from MGM Resorts International.

The Las Vegas gaming giant has already sued over the East Windsor project in federal court. Lamont has previously touted the scrapping of plans for the third casino as a step toward his goal of getting a "global resolution" on sports betting.

On Wednesday, answering questions at a news conference, he wasn't quite as direct.

"No, it wasn't a condition," the governor said, "but I think you know it was a source of aggravation to some of the outside casino places that had objections there. We're trying to reach an accommodation where we can get sports betting and even iGaming going in the state [and] do it in a way that doesn't prompt a litigation war of sorts."

MGM has contended all along that it should have gotten a fair shake in securing a license for what's essentially a commercial casino -- one built off tribal land and in direct competition with MGM's Springfield, Massachusetts, property.

MGM wasn't immediately available to comment for this story.

East Windsor First Selectman Jason Bowsza also hasn't responded to Connecticut Public, but he did say in the statement provided by the tribes that the town respects the "long view approach" they're taking before investing in a brick-and-mortar casino during a pandemic.

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