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MGM takes tribal casino operator to court

Tue, Aug 13, 8:10am by Staff Writer

Casino giant MGM isn’t done messing with two Connecticut gaming tribes’ efforts to build a joint venture casino in the state.

Last Wednesday, MGM filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Washington DC, accusing the US Department of the Interior and its Bureau of Indian Affairs of violating federal rules in approving two tribes’ proposed joint venture Tribal Winds casino in East Windsor, Connecticut, Calvin Ayre reports.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes – which operate Connecticut’s Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos – joined forces in 2017 under the banner of MMCT Venture to build their new casino off tribal land near the state’s northern border with Massachusetts.

Their intention was to intercept Connecticut gamblers who might otherwise patronise MGM Springfield just over the border.

In addition to the mounting legal challenges of the tribes’ plans, MGM was strongly suspected of being behind the DOI’s foot-dragging on approving the tribes’ application to amend their gaming compacts with the state of Connecticut.

It wasn’t until this March that the BIA finally signed off on the deal, which came not long after DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke – who was suspected of doing MGM a favour by stalling the process – had resigned under a flood of corruption probes.

MGM now claims that the BIA had no right to approve the amended compacts because they “circumvent [the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act’s] land-in-trust process, which governs off-reservation gaming.”

MGM claims that the amended compacts “confer a statewide, perpetual competitive advantage over commercial gaming operators such as MGM.”

MGM was undoubtedly spurred to act following last week’s release of a Connecticut legislator’s proposed bill that would allow the tribes to not only build their East Windsor casino, but also another gaming venue in Bridgeport, where MGM had previously sought permission to operate.

That bill would also have given the tribes the right to offer sports beting and online gambling.

Last week’s bill was in no way guaranteed to pass, in part due to opposition by Connecticut governor Ned Lamont, who alternatively suggested that the tribes forego their East Windsor plans and build their JV casino in Bridgeport.

The tribes passed on that proposal, opting to hold out for all the gaming marbles.

MGM layoffs won’t hurt Japan licence

Layoffs at MGM Resorts International may help – not hurt – the operator captures one of three coveted gaming licences up for grabs in Japan, company officials said.

Brian Sandoval, the ex-Nevada governor and former judge and state Attorney General who is president of global gaming development for the company, said the reduction in labor costs will show a more nimble company.

That would make MGM more competitive in what is looking to be a hotly contested selection process, reported in June

The company has initiated MGM 2020 – a strategy which is leading to more than 1,000 layoffs of employees.

Most of those let go are in management.

MGM announced the 2020 plan in early January.

The goal is to increase annual adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) by $200 million over the next two years, and an additional $100 million by the end of 2021.

“The bottom line is if they’re aware of it, it’s about making MGM a stronger, more nimble company, and it’s actually going to benefit our work in Japan,” Sandoval was quoted by the Las Vegas Review Journal.

“I’ve been to Japan four times, and I haven’t been asked once about MGM 2020,” Sandoval added.

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