MGM loses first battle against third Connecticut casino

(WTNH)– MGM Resorts has lost the first round in their battle against a third Connecticut casino.

The federal appeals court in New York has upheld an earlier court ruling that it was “too soon to sue” when MGM filed the lawsuit last year when the legislature approved a bill giving the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes the okay to start the process of find a town willing to accept a new casino to compete with MGM’s new property in Springfield.

It’s expected that MGM will start a new court action now that the third casino has been approved by the legislature. MGM contends that only allowing the two tribes the opportunity for a new casino in the state violates the constitution and that there should be an open bidding process.

MGM has said the state could derive more revenue and jobs by allowing a third casino to be developed in Fairfield County to take advantage of the greater New York City market.

MGM released the following statement in response to Wednesday’s decision:

“Today’s decision regarding the 2015 law, Special Act 15-7, will not affect MGM’s future ability to challenge Connecticut’s new casino statute, Senate Bill 957. As Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen has acknowledged, both in a recent press interview and in his March 13th legal opinion, the State will not be able to use any of the arguments regarding Special Act 15-7 in any future lawsuit, giving MGM standing to challenge Senate Bill 957,” said Uri Clinton, Senior Vice President and Legal Counsel, MGM Resorts.

“We view today’s ruling as nothing more than a matter of timing and remain undeterred in our goal of having the opportunity to compete in Connecticut,” said Clinton.

The Appeals Court itself noted this future likelihood in its ruling, saying, “Our conclusion does not rule out the possibility that MGM’s alleged harm may at some future point become sufficiently imminent. That possibility, though, is at this time only hypothetical and we therefore need not address it.”

If Governor Malloy signs into law the recently passed Senate Bill 957 the “hypothetical” immediately becomes reality.

“Senate Bill 957 violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution by authorizing two identified tribes — and no one else — to operate Connecticut’s first commercial casino,” Clinton added. “The Attorney General himself has recognized that MGM’s likelihood of success ‘is not at all insubstantial.’”

Rodney Butler, Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, and Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, released the statement below on the decision:

“We’re gratified that the Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of MGM’s lawsuit. Our focus remains on saving the thousands of jobs and millions in state tax revenue that would have been lost had the legislature not passed SB 957. We look forward to developing an exciting new casino and continuing to build our state’s economy in the weeks and months ahead.”

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