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US – Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes file suit against Department of Interior

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The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribal Nations have joined the State of Connecticut to file suit against the Department of Interior over the Department’s failure to consider approving mutually agreed upon amendments to their existing compacts with the State of Connecticut.

The Tribes are suing in Federal District Court to protect their compacts and to pursue shared economic opportunities with the State.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes obtained legislative authorization from the State of Connecticut to operate a commercial gaming facility in Connecticut. The Tribes and the State submitted to the Interior Department amendments to their existing compacts to clarify that the Tribes’ operation of a commercial gaming facility outside the Tribes’ Indian lands will not alter or compromise the Tribes’ existing compacts and revenue sharing arrangements with the State.

“This is a novel and innovative economic approach to confronting the impacts of widespread State legalization of gaming. The Tribes and the State should have assurances from the Interior, which are mandated by law, that they have the right to pursue the best economic interests for their citizens,” stated NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr.

Prior to denying consideration of the amendments with Connecticut, the Department of Interior actively provided guidance and technical assistance to the Tribes. Once the Tribes submitted the amendments for Interior approval, the Department returned the amendments without taking official agency action as required under IGRA and the Administrative Procedures Act.

“The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes are two of the early leaders in Indian Gaming. They were part of an initial group of Tribes with some of the first compacts approved under IGRA. The Interior must provide a decision on their compact amendments and let the Tribes pursue this new economic initiative, which has full support from the State of Connecticut,” said NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr.

NIGA will continue to monitor this situation and provide members with current updates on the status of their court case. IGRA has proven to be one of the most successful federal laws in generating economic activity in Indian Country. NIGA will remain vigilant against any attempts by Federal Agencies to circumvent IGRA’s compact approval requirements.

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