As far as New England is concerned, it does not take much searching to discover just how few casinos can be found. In fact, the state of Connecticut only has 2 brick and mortar sites, both of which are run by Native American tribes. Little more than a year ago, the tribes that operate the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos in Connecticut are attempting to build a 3rd casino, near Hartford. Still, more than 365 days have passed and the Native tribes have gotten no closer to picking a site where the casino will be built. Initially, after submitting their casino application in October of 2015, the plan was to have a site picked sometime in December. As you have probably gathered by now, last December and about 11 more months have passed and it seems as though we are no closer to knowing where this casino will actually end up being built.
In addition to this, the tribes’ plan to build a casino is facing some stiff opposition from none other than MGM Grand. MGM, which is scheduled to have their own Massachusetts-based casino up and running by 2018, is seeking to block the construction of Connecticut’s 3rd casino on the basis of it destroying the chances for their casino to have success. With a tribal casino located in Hartford, a town less than 20 miles south of the Massachusetts border, any gambling revenue that might have flooded across the border will now be content to stay in Connecticut. This would make it extremely difficult for the MGM-owned casino to flourish or even survive.
The case will be heard at the appellate court before the end of November, however it will be difficult for anyone to make a decisive ruling on the matter until the tribes figure out just where exactly the casino will be located. In addition to Hartford, towns in and around Windsor Locks are also being considered. This is even more of a drag on MGM’s Massachusetts plans as the town of Windsor Locks is located even closer to the Massachusetts border than Hartford. Some are speculating that the refusal to announce a casino site is a move on the part of the tribes to prevent the New York appellate court from making a final, decisive ruling, but there is little evidence to support such a claim.
It is expected that the tribal authorities will have decided upon a location for Connecticut’s 3rd brick and mortar casino by the time state lawmakers reconvene in January, but it is still too early to tell if the court case brought on by MGM Grand will have been decided upon. What we do know, however, is that this is going to be an interesting situation to watch closely. New England is still just beginning to experiment with brick and mortar casinos, so any court ruling or local government decisions regarding these establishments might go a long way as far as setting state and regional precedents is concerned.