Tags: american indian tribes | department of the interior | connecticut casinos

American Indian Tribes: Interior Dept. Illegally Blocked Casino Plans

Image: American Indian Tribes: Interior Dept. Illegally Blocked Casino Plans
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (Chris Kleponis/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 01 February 2018 03:33 PM

Two tribes of American Indians are saying that Secretary Ryan Zinke's Department of the Interior illegally blocked the tribes' plans for a third Connecticut casino, a delay that could benefit MGM Resorts International, a politically connected gambling company, Politico reported.

According to a Politico review of Zinke's schedule, lobbying registrations, and other documents, the Interior Department refusal to sign off on the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes' plans came after Zinke and other senior officials in the department had meetings and phone calls with MGM lobbyists and MGM's supporters in Congress.

After a tribe submits a proposal for changes to a gaming compact with a state, the Department of the Interior has 45 days to provide a positive or negative verdict, the two tribes note in a lawsuit filed against Zinke and the department.

"I think the Department of Interior has been derelict in failing to give approval" to the tribes' proposal, said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., in Politico. "We asked for a meeting, but they were unresponsive," the senator added.

"It's 100 percent about delaying us for as long as they possibly can," said Andrew Doba, a spokesman for the tribes' joint project, in Politico.

Connecticut state law prohibits casino ownership to the two tribes and to their joint project, Politico reported.

MGM has joined the lawsuit on the Interior Department's side, Politico reported.

The Connecticut casino proposal is on non-tribal land across the border from a casino that MGM has planned for Springfield, Missouri, the report said.

The tribes' lawsuit seeks to force the Interior Department to approve the contract, with the argument that the law disallows Interior from refusing to provide a verdict, Politico reported.

Associate Deputy Interior Secretary James Cason said a verdict would be "premature" and that the department had "insufficient information," Politico reported.

"We need clarity and certainty with respect to this issue," said Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in November when the lawsuit was filed, The Connecticut Mirror reported.

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Two tribes of American Indians are saying that Secretary Ryan Zinke's Department of the Interior illegally blocked the tribes' plans for a third Connecticut casino, a delay that could benefit MGM Resorts International, a politically connected gambling company, Politico...
american indian tribes, department of the interior, connecticut casinos
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2018-33-01
Thursday, 01 February 2018 03:33 PM
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