Foxwoods Chair Says Connecticut Gov’s Mohegan Sun Deal “Extremely Disrespectful

Posted on: March 3, 2021, 01:10h. 

Last updated on: March 3, 2021, 05:22h.

The tribe that owns Foxwoods Resort Casino says Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) announcement that a deal has been reached to allow Mohegan Sun to operate online gambling and sports betting was handled improperly.

Connecticut Foxwoods Mohegan Sun Lamont
Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, is seen here at an empty Foxwoods Resort Casino in 2020. The tribal leader is angry with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont for reaching a deal with rival tribe Mohegan for online gambling and sports betting. (Image: Connecticut Mirror)

Lamont and the Mohegan Tribe came to terms this week that expands the tribe’s Class III gaming compact. The tribe has been afforded iGaming and sports betting privileges. In exchange, Mohegan Sun will share 20 percent of its online gaming revenue, and 13.75 percent of its sports betting win, with the state.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns Foxwoods, is the other federally recognized tribe in Connecticut. After Mashantucket tribal leaders said yesterday they, too, were close to striking a deal with the state for iGaming and sports betting, they issued a scathing statement lambasting Lamont’s public actions.

Extremely disrespectful,” said Rodney Butler today. Butler is the chairman of the tribe.

Butler revealed that the tribe and Lamont remain at odds regarding a “rounding error” in relation to what percentage of associated gaming revenue it will direct to the state.

“For us, we’re a small tribe who have our challenges and focus on sustainability of our nation in the long run,” Butler explained. “And a half a million, a million dollars, makes a huge difference in our ability to service our population.”

State Urging Foxwoods to Sign Dotted Line

The Lamont administration issued a response to Butler’s comments. Paul Mounds, Lamont’s chief of staff, says the same deal offered to the Mohegan Tribe has been presented to the Mashantuckets.

Governor Lamont is urging the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation to join this agreement immediately,” Mounds stated.

Lawmakers representing the eastern portion of Connecticut where the Mashantuckets call home also voiced their frustrations with Lamont.

“We remain committed to the future and to the modernization of gaming in Connecticut,” a letter to Lamont signed by 17 legislators stated. “However, we cannot accept this agreement, as it is incomplete. It is necessary that the agreement include both the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Unless an agreement includes both tribes, the eastern Connecticut delegation simply cannot support it.”

The two tribes have for decades conducted Class III gaming — slot machines and table games — under identical compacts. The arrangements require Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods to share 25 percent of their slot win with the state.

Mohegan Larger, More Powerful Tribe

With more than 2,200 members, most of whom reside in Connecticut on or near ancestral tribal lands, the Mohegan Tribe is roughly twice the size of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

Through its gaming unit Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE), the Mohegan Tribe’s economic resources are vastly greater, too. In addition to its Connecticut casino, MGE operates gaming in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington, Louisiana, Nevada, and Canada. The company is also investing billions of dollars to build integrated casino resorts in South Korea and Greece.

The Mashantuckets have only one casino property — Foxwoods. However, the tribe announced in January that it will spend $12.5 million to open a casino in Puerto Rico at the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel.