Connecticut, Its Tribes Should Check Massachusetts Before Proceeding with Third Casino

The MGM casino project in Springfield, Mass. drops plans for a 27-story hotel worrying residents there; the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians get a key federal recognition that clears the way for a casino is Taunton; and a developer in Brockton wants the southeastern, Mass. casino license. All of these are key developments in the “casino wars” between the Bay State and Connecticut that the latter should consider before pressing ahead with plans for a third, Indian Tribe casino.

The fast and furious pace of developments on the casino front should give pause to everyone involved. Consider:

• The MGM casino project in Springfield is the development that spooked the Connecticut General Assembly into passing legislation putting in place a process by which a third casino in the state could be built. It gave a monopoly on development rights to the two Indian tribes that operate Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

MGM is suing the state over being shut out of competing for the third Connecticut casino. The view here is the lawsuit has merit. But MGM now has problems of its own. It has dropped plans for the big hotel as part of the resort project. That has some Springfielders worried, thinking maybe they were hoodwinked in voting for the project. Perhaps MGM should right its own house before concentrating on Connecticut.

• The Wampanoag Indians won a crucial federal recognition allowing it to own 300 acres of land in Taunton, Mass. In addition to providing plenty of space for its ceremonial rituals, it brings the tribe closer to the right to build its own casino.

Artist rendering of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe's Taunton, Mass. casino
Artist rendering of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Taunton, Mass. casino

• A developer in Brockton, Mass. is trying to obtain the license for the southeastern Mass. resort/casino provided for in the law authorizing casino gambling in the state.

A Taunton Indian casino plus a possible Brocton development equals gambling saturation in southeastern Massachusetts and bad news for the two existing Connecticut casinos. Taunton is 80 miles from the eastern Connecticut home of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Brockton is about the same..

• Meanwhile, it looks like the lawsuit filed by the city of Boston against state gaming commission over the Steve Wynn project in Everett, just north of Boston, is losing steam. The judge in the case seems reluctant to overturn the commission’s decision to grant the Greater Boston license to Wynn. The city of Somerville and a citizens group are also suing. Attorney General Maura Healey has requested an independent traffic impact study of the project.

All in all, perhaps Connecticut should think twice about a third casino in the state until the above becomes a little clearer. The last thing the state needs is a casino glut further damaging the already struggling existing resorts.