Earlier this week, Gov. Ned Lamont announced the state had reached an agreement with one of the two federally recognized tribes over gaming expansion, but his administration has since admitted that they need both tribes to sign onto the same deal.
Lamont announced a deal with the Mohegan Tribal Nation over taxes on revenue from sports betting and online gaming, but the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation was not a party to the agreement.
“The administration agrees that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation must be a party in any agreement, and that this agreement is best for the entire state, especially Eastern Connecticut, where the tribes employ thousands of people and contribute significantly to local economies and communities,” Paul Mounds, chief of staff to Lamont, said.
Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, said Thursday that the governor, not his staff, should sit down with the parties this weekend and finish the discussion.
“He made a decision to put out the details of the contract when it was not finished,” Osten said.
At his Thursday COVID-19 briefing, Lamont said his staff continues to have discussions with the tribes.
I hope we;ll have something positive to announce with both tribal nations very soon.
“The sooner the better but let’s let David Lehman and Melissa McCaw finalize what we’re going to do,” Lamont said.
Lehman is Lamont’s Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner and McCaw is his secretary of the Office of Policy and Management.
Osten insisted these were discussions that the governor should personally be having with the chairmen of the two tribal nations.
Mashantucket Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler said that it’s “offensive” that Lamont’s team released the outline of the deal without completing the negotiation.
“We have one remaining point of contention that is easily resolved if some sense of mutual respect is afforded for the specific needs of our tribal community,” Butler said. “We remain open to discussions and hope this is resolved quickly for the benefit of the entire state of Connecticut.”
Lamont said negotiations are continuing.
“We’re continuing to talk,” Lamont said. “All three parties are continuing to talk.”
If a deal is reached the two tribes the Connecticut legislature will still need to approve it and then it will need approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which monitors the agreements the tribes have with the state regarding its revenue sharing. That could take anywhere from 60 to 90 days, according to Butler.