The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, which is not a federally recognized tribe, did not receive the state’s permission to form a business entity to look at developing a third casino in the state.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said her office made a mistake Tuesday in accidentally awarding the limited liability corporation.
“The Special Act created a unique situation that raised the bar for review,” Merrill said Wednesday. “In this case it looks like the application was received in error. In 99.99 percent of the cases, we have to receive and file an LLC application without regard to the stated purpose of the entity. Anyone can start a business and we believe it should be easy to do. It appears in this case that the application meets the standard to create an LLC but not the requirements of the Special Act. We are looking into what additional action should be taken.”
Connecticut’s two federally recognized tribes, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe, have formed a joint venture to pursue construction of a third casino that was authorized by the General Assembly last year. The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation sought to form a similar business venture.
Richard Velkey, chief of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, said Tuesday his tribe wanted to pursue building a third casino in the state and thought Merril’s office had given him permission.
Merrill’s office allowed the Schaghticoke’s to file the paperwork, but it had not reviewed the filing until Wednesday morning.
Confluence of Rivers Tribal Business Entity, LLC, the Schaghticoke’s business venture, does not comport with the General Assembly’s special act.
“Special Act 15-7 does not authorize casino gaming in Connecticut,” according to a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office.
But there’s nothing to prohibit an entity from registering a business and trying to change legislation so that it can build a casino.
“Neither Special Act 15-7 nor any other law prevents any individual or entity from creating a business, registering it with the Secretary of the State (provided only that it is not registered under Special Act 15-7), issuing an RFP, negotiating a development agreement with a municipality and asking the state to make changes to the law necessary for the agreement to be approved for operation of a casino,” Jaclyn Falkowski said in an email.
Meanwhile, the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequots have accepted five proposals from four towns, but said they need a little more time deciding exactly where they would build a third casino.
The proposals for that joint venture came from East Hartford, East Windsor, Hartford, and Windsor Locks. A spokesman for the joint tribal entity said two proposals were submitted from Windsor Locks. The Bradley Airport Authority and Sportech, which owns the off-track betting facility in Windsor Locks, have publicly expressed interest in hosting a casino. The town of Windsor Locks voted against submitting a proposal.
Ideally, the tribes want to build a casino in the Hartford area and stem the flow of traffic to the MGM casino being built in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The legislature still has to give its approval to the plan, and there’s at least one court challenge to the legislature’s decision to allow only the tribes to pursue a new casino.
Earlier this year Merrill’s office denied a similar application filed by MGM. MGM then filed a lawsuit against the state. That lawsuit is still pending.