- The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs approved a change this week to the country’s Native American tribal gaming laws that will allow development and construction of an up to $400 million casino in East Windsor, Connecticut.
- The Tribal Winds Casino, which will take up somewhere between 100,000 square feet and 188,000 square feet, is a joint venture between the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes and will feature 1,800 Las Vegas-style slot machines, 50 table games and 10 poker tables, according to 500 Nations.
- The Connecticut casino is being developed to compete with the $960 million MGM Resorts International casino in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts, which opened in August. The Connecticut Native American tribes told the Courant that the project is ready to break ground and will take between 18 months and 24 months to complete.
The Mashantucket Pequots are the driving force behind the successful Foxwoods Resort Casino, and the Mohegans run the Mohegan Sun, both in southeastern Connecticut. The difference between these casinos and the one in East Windsor, though, is that the latter is not on tribal land, and its approval could resurrect an MGM lawsuit against the project. MGM, according to The Connecticut Mirror, maintains that for the state to authorize an off-reservation casino without taking competitive bids is unconstitutional.
Casino projects typically provide plenty of work for contractors due to the size of the facilities as well as the hotels, conference space and amenities that often go with them. But they’re also usually not without controversy, especially in competitive markets like the Northeast.
Wynn Resorts, the developer of the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino resort in Everett, Massachusetts, had to elbow local competitor Suffolk Downs out of the way to win the region’s only available casino license. But the project also faced opposition from a nearby town because of the noise, traffic congestion and environmental impact from construction.
And although the building of the Everett casino has been underway for years by Suffolk Construction and is scheduled to open in June, the legal battles haven’t stopped. In September, the former owners of Suffolk Downs filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Wynn claiming that it fraudulently obtained its casino license at Suffolk Down's expense, according to The Boston Globe. The suit also characterized Wynn’s efforts to win the license as a criminal enterprise under federal RICO statutes.
And Wynn’s license is at risk, as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is set to decide if allegations of sexual misconduct against the company’s former chief executive Steve Wynn are enough to revoke the casino’s gambling license, Bisnow reported.