Former federal official warns casino revenue deal at risk - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Former federal official warns casino revenue deal at risk

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A former U.S. Department of Interior secretary is warning Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that Connecticut's current casino revenue sharing arrangement with two federally recognized tribes could end if those tribes are allowed to open a third casino in East Windsor.

In a letter sent Tuesday, Ken Salazar says there's "substantial risk" the Department of Interior won't approve amendments the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes will likely propose to the gambling agreement they now have with the state.

Salazar led the Department of Interior for five years during the Obama Administration. He was hired as a consultant by MGM Resorts International, which is building a casino in Springfield, Massachusetts.

A spokesman for the tribes says MGM is "willing to pay anyone and everyone to stop our project from moving forward."

Kelly Donnelly released a statement on behalf of the governor. 

“We have requested a formal opinion from Attorney General Jepsen’s office. One of the specific issues we are seeking their guidance on is regarding the risks associated with amending the compact. We look forward to their response to our request," Donnelly said on Tuesday. 

Andrew Doba, spokesperson for MMCT, the joint tribal venture designed to preserve Connecticut jobs and revenue, released a statement on Tuesday

"First they paid former Attorney General Eric Holder. Then, they paid Former Senator Joseph Lieberman. Now, they're paying the former Interior Secretary. What does it add up to? That MGM is willing to pay anyone and everyone to stop our project from moving forward because they know our proposal is going to keep jobs and revenue in Connecticut," Doba said.

"By their own math, 45% of the revenue they hope to get for their billion dollar investment is supposed to come from Connecticut residents. That's not going to happen when our facility opens its doors, and they willing to spend whatever it takes to try and stop us," Doba went on to say. 

The whole project still needs the approval of state lawmakers. Lawmakers have their hearing set for Thursday. On Thursday night, East Windsor's board of selectmen will hold its own forum about the project.

To read the letter by Salazar, click here

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