- MMCT Venture, a Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal partnership, have been approved for casino
- US Department of the Interior gives the go-ahead for the proposed Tribal Winds Casino
- The decision comes after the threat of litigation was resumed and while a federal jury reviews the case
For several years, the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have worked to create a casino in East Windsor, Connecticut. Working together as MMCT Venture, the tribes have fought on a federal level to bring the Tribal Winds Casino to life. Now federal approval has been given and the casino plans can move forward.
In 2017, the tribes thought they were close to receiving the permission needed to build the casino. The Department of the Interior had to give the go-ahead before the construction process could begin. However, the Secretary of the Interior at the time, Ryan Zinke, turned down the request from MMCT Venture.
The tribes then decided to sue Zinke as well as President Donald Trump. MMCT Venture claimed that Republican campaign donors representing MGM Resorts and Nevada pressured Trump and Zinke to rule against the East Windsor casino plans.
The casino would compete with the MGM Springfield, which opened last year near East Windsor in neighboring Massachusetts. In February, the lawsuit filed by the tribes was revived by a federal appeals court.
At the same time that the lawsuit was revived, it was reported that a Washington grand jury was looking into whether Zinke lied to investigators about the casino project. In December, Zinke had resigned as the Secretary of the Interior after he became the subject of an ethics investigation.
Ready to begin
MMCT Venture is ready to begin the East Windsor casino project. It will create about 2,000 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs when it opens.
Another 1,000 jobs will be created indirectly via small business vendors the tribes work with. The finished project should cost around $300m to $400m (£227m to £303m) and will contain 100,000 square feet of space.
In a prepared statement, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Chairman Rodney Butler said: “Today is a great day for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the State of Connecticut, especially given our 400-year history together. I applaud the actions of the Department of Interior and extend my sincerest gratitude to assistant secretary Tara Sweeney and the Office of the Solicitor at the Interior Department for their assistance in resolving this matter.”