Connecticut Court Gives MGM The Mutombo Finger Wag On East Windsor Case

Posted on June 26, 2017

[toc]MGM Resorts International is behind on the scorecard after the first two rounds.

Legal arguments aimed at blocking a proposed casino on the Connecticut-Massachusetts border were found lacking last week. As a result, the dismissal of MGM’s case against Connecticut was upheld by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.

Despite its second legal defeat, the company doesn’t have any plans to stop fighting. After all, MGM has a $1 billion casino investment in Springfield, Massachusetts to protect.

MGM is “undeterred in our goal of having the opportunity to compete in Connecticut,” MGM Resorts legal counsel Uri Clinton said in a statement after the ruling.

The crux of the East Windsor casino lawsuit

The Connecticut legislature recently passed a bill that authorizes a $300 million tribal casino on non-tribal land, without any type of bidding/proposal process. The measure also authorized the construction of a third casino in the state. It effectively handed the license for that casino to the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes.

MGM, which happens to be building a Massachusetts casino less than 30 minutes from the Connecticut border, has been highly critical of the process from the outset.

In a statement following the House vote, Clinton said:

“Connecticut missed an enormous opportunity to put in place an open, transparent and competitive casino process, which could have resulted in as much as $1 billion in economic development, the creation of thousands of jobs and a licensing fee paid to the state of up to $100 million. What Connecticut got instead was far less than that.”

MGM wants an open bidding process. It would also like to see the project moved south, far away from its yet-to-be-completed Massachusetts project.

With Connecticut deciding to pre-award the license to its two gaming tribes, MGM is doing everything it can to block the bill. Thus far, courts have sided with the state of Connecticut.

Case dismissed over lack of evidence

In a prior decision, a Connecticut judge already dismissed the case brought by MGM against the state of Connecticut. The company suffered its second defeat last week when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling.

When it dismissed the case, the 2nd Circuit gave MGM International the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag, calling the company’s claims that the legislature’s decision to fast track the joint project between the state’s two gaming tribes put MGM at a competitive disadvantage, “purely speculative.”

MGM can still fight

The tribes are happy with the ruling, but the court did leave the door open for MGM to continue pursuing legal action.

According to the Boston Herald, in his opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge John Walker Jr. wrote the following in a footnote:

“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.”

The question now is: can MGM prove they are being harmed?

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Steve Ruddock

Steve Ruddock is a veteran of the poker media, contributing to offline and online publications centered on the regulated US online gambling industry. These include OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com as well as USA Today. Steve is based in Massachusetts and is also a poker player.

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