The casino business in Connecticut reached a new competitive level Tuesday when MGM Resorts International Inc. filed suit in Hartford federal court, complaining that it was excluded from a process than may lead to a third casino in the state.
Las Vegas-based MGM, which is developing an $800 million casino in Springfield, Mass., is challenging a law passed in the last legislative session that gives the state’s two federally recognized Indian tribes the exclusive right to negotiate with municipalities interested in hosting a casino, but final authorization of a new casino would require approval by the General Assembly.
The state is considering allowing a casino near the state’s northern border to reduce the number of gamblers who take their patronage to MGM Massachusetts facility.
Though 1998 federal law allows gaming on Indian reservations, the new state law could lead to the state’s first casino off a reservation. MGM’s lawsuit claims that giving the tribes the exclusive right to solicit proposals violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection and commerce clauses.
The Mashantucket Pequot tribe operates Foxwoods Resort Casino, and the Mohegan tribe operates the Mohegan Sun casino, both in southeastern Connecticut.
TrendCT looked at lobbying filings back to 2009 to see how these groups tried to influence state government.
The two Connecticut tribes have always had between five and seven communicator lobbyists. Those are individuals or firms that do the actual lobbying legwork.
In 2012, MGM hired three communicators, who’ve been involved with Connecticut state government since (except in 2014, when only two were registered).
According to their registrations with the state, communicator lobbyists for MGM Resorts and the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority focused on only one issue: Gaming. However, communicator lobbyists for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods Resort Casino were signed up to lobby on many other issues, including health and hospitals, government, insurance, business, transportation, alcohol and consumer affairs.
Since 2012, MGM has outspent the Mohegan tribe on administrative lobbying, which is done to influence the rules or regulations of an executive agency.
They spent the most money this legislative session at $96,000— more than three times what the tribe spent on administrative lobbying.
The Mashantucket Pequots stopped focusing on administrative lobbying after 2009, according to the figures.
While MGM spent the bulk of its money on administrative lobbying, the Indian tribes spent more money on legislative lobbying.
The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority spent $157,000, almost three times what the Mashantucket Pequots spent and more than 23 times what MGM spent.
The lobbying compensation data looks similar to the legislative lobbying data except for MGM. They outspent the Mashantucket Pequots by almost $50,000.
Combining administrative and legislative client spending, Mohegan Sun spent a total of $270,000, the Mashantucket Pequots spent $55,000, and MGM spent $120,000.
|Client||Communicator Lobbyist||Registering Type|
|Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods Resort Casino||Brooks Campion||Both|
|Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods Resort Casino||Hilary Felton-Reid||Both|
|Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods Resort Casino||Keith Stover||Both|
|Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods Resort Casino||Sean Bradbury||Both|
|Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods Resort Casino||Susan Halpin||Both|
|Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods Resort Casino||Hannah Ricketts||Leg|
|Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods Resort Casino||Meghan DiMuzio||Leg|
|MGM Resorts International Operations, Inc.||Michael Johnson||Both|
|MGM Resorts International Operations, Inc.||Patricia LeShane||Both|
|MGM Resorts International Operations, Inc.||Patrick Sullivan||Both|
|Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority||Joseph Riter||Both|
|Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority||Katherine Lutz||Both|
|Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority||Peter Smith||Both|
|Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority||Diane Pickles||Admin|
|Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority||John C. Larkin||Leg|
|Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority||Lisa Winkler||Admin|