Speaking following an event held at the Mohegan Sun Casino, Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown said the governor and the federal government are all on the same page when it comes to authorizing the state’s first casino off tribal land.
Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the Department of the Interior, spoke during the event, a significant appearance for the groups in attendance and for the state, Brown said.
"It was really monumental to see the state of Connecticut’s governor Dannel Malloy stand with the secretary of the interior particularly in the shadow of this agreement that we’ve struck with the state to build a third casino," Brown said.
The Connecticut General Assembly approved legislation last week that would allow the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes to build and operate a casino in East Windsor. Since there is no tribal land in East Windsor, it would become the state’s first commercial casino.
Malloy said Tuesday that he thinks the legislation and legal reasoning are sound, which will likely to lead his signature on the bill.
The governor said recent guidance from the Bureau of Indian Affairs factored into his and lawmakers’ decisions.
"I don’t think that without the advisory opinion from the BIA to begin with, I don’t think the legislature would have sent that package to me and so you know I think those two things are very much linked," Malloy said.
MGM has been the loudest voice against the process that would allow solely the tribes to operate a third casino. MGM, which will open a new casino north of the Connecticut border in Springfield, Massachusetts later this year, has argued and lobbied for an open competitive bid process.
The vision from MGM’s standpoint, has been for a casino closer to the New York City market.
To that end, MGM employed the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who penned a letter to Connecticut’s Attorney General, warning of "serious questions," and constitutional concerns surrounding the closed casino award process.
Malloy could sign the legislation as soon as it reaches his desk, which could be tomorrow.
Kevin Brown with the Mohegan Tribe said just having Zinke in attendance this week could provide a guide for the future of the third casino.
"Governor Malloy and Secretary Zinke had a very fulsome conversation that identified and recognized the respect that the federal government has for our relationship with the state of Connecticut and they support what we’re doing with the state of Connecticut," Brown said.