Net winnings: Feds give the go-ahead for East Windsor casino

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EAST WINDSOR -

Tribal Winds, Connecticut's third casino, received the green light Thursday from federal authorities.

The plan calls for the casino to open in East Windsor. It has been stalled for more than a year after MGM successfully lobbied former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to withhold federal approval. Zinke is now under investigation for how he handled the case.

The casino is being developed jointly by the tribes that own Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

VIDEO: Gaming expansion bill advances; Bridgeport casino comes closer to reality

"Today is a great day for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the state of Connecticut, especially given our 400-year history together," says Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. "Now that the approval of our amendment is secured and our exclusivity agreement with the state of Connecticut is reaffirmed, we will move forward with construction on Tribal Winds Casino in East Windsor and preserve much needed jobs and revenue."

VIDEO: Tense moments as Bridgeport officials make case for MGM casino

 

A spokesperson for Gov. Ned Lamont also released a statement, saying in part, "We are very pleased that the Interior Department has decided to approve the amendments to Mashantucket Gaming Procedures and Memorandum of Understanding. Approval of these amendments ensures that any state law authorizing MMCT to operate a commercial casino off of the tribal reservations will do no harm to the state's existing revenue sharing agreements with the tribes."

MGM says it is still committed to pursuing a casino in Bridgeport and will also be pursuing their legal options about stopping the East Windsor casino.

MGM released a statement saying: "The Attorney General's office has repeatedly warned, as recently as last year, that pursuing a no-bid approach in East Windsor would expose Connecticut to significant legal risks. As MGM has always stated, we will continue to pursue all legal options, including litigation, to defend our right to compete in Connecticut. While we assess the planned Interior Department publication, the fundamentals haven't changed. MGM remains steadfast in our view that Bridgeport is the best location in Connecticut for a commercial casino if the state is to maximize jobs, economic growth, tourism, and revenue - and a transparent, competitive process is in the state's best interest."

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