MGM Lawsuit Looms as Conn. Tribes Circle the Wagons on Third State Casino

The Indian tribes that operate the two resort casinos in Connecticut made a big deal last week out of their now-official, historic partnership to develop a third casino in the state. A tight timetable to accept proposals on just where in the state the new project would be located was laid out. Conspicuously absent from discussion of the third gaming facility was how to address the lawsuit filed by MGM, the giant entertainment company suing Connecticut because the state locked them out of a chance to compete for the project. The state shouldn’t minimize the potential success of the legal action.

From a non-attorney’s perspective, it seems MGM may have a point. The legislation that authorized the third casino precluded anyone except the Indian tribes from building it. Seems unconstitutional on its face. If the state is going to allow another casino, shouldn’t anyone be able to bid to vie to build it? Why hand the rights over to the tribes? Isn’t there an equal protection problem here? Unconstitutional?

MGM International’s big wig Bill Hornbuckle is the type of executive that lays low until it’s time to throw bombs—which he did. “We are disappointed by this decision. MGM regularly competes for commercial casino development opportunities and would like to be able to do so in Connecticut,” Hornbuckle told MassLive. “While our company is supportive of tribal gaming…the law passed in Connecticut gives two preferred tribes an unfair and unjustified preferential treatment by designating them as the only entities, tribal or commercial, authorized to negotiate with cities and enter development agreements for a new commercial casino on non-reservation land in Connecticut.”

MGM's Bill Hornbuckle
MGM’s Bill Hornbuckle

The state of Connecticut has already asked for more time to respond to the lawsuit. Just how this all shakes out is still to be determined. But the tribes and the Connecticut legislature should take it very seriously.