If Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno (D) is concerned over the impact the satellite casino in East Windsor, Connecticut, might have on his town’s $950 million MGM resort in Massachusetts, he’s doing everything he can to present a different façade.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno keeps a cluttered desk, but as for the cluttered gambling environment in Massachusetts and Connecticut, he’s ready to see MGM Springfield clean up. (Image: Stephan Savoia/Associated Press)

In a statement this week, Sarno tried to downplay the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that said Connecticut can indeed allow its two Native American groups to build a satellite casino on non-tribal lands.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes will jointly build the gambling venue in East Windsor, just 13 miles south of MGM Springfield.

“MGM Resorts International is a world-renowned company and while I appreciate their continued belief and investment in our Springfield, simply put, their and my focus should and will be on what we can direct and control: continuing to put a first-class resort establishment in Springfield,” Sarno declared. “This in itself will quell any potential competition of a glorified slots parlor in a neighboring state.”

While Sarno called the proposed Connecticut satellite a slots parlor, the facility is expected to house table games.

Not So Neighborly

The joint venture from the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes, collectively known as MMCT, is in hopes of building a satellite casino to keep coveted gambling dollars in the state. Lawmakers and the Native American groups are justly concerned that citizens will travel north from the central part of Connecticut and into Massachusetts to gamble.

MGM Resorts filed a lawsuit against Connecticut on the basis that if the state wishes to expand gambling to non-tribal lands, it should do so in a competitive and open manner. Hartford politicians passed a bill that allows only MMCT to receive the gambling license.

There are a host of concerns over the possible expansion.

Connecticut allowing a casino to be built on non-sovereign land actually violates its gaming compact with the two tribes, despite them being the ones awarded the license. And though both Native American groups say they will continue sharing 25 percent of their slot revenue at their Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, as well as at the satellite, legally they might not be required to since their compacts could be deemed invalid in a court of law.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs says the tribes can indeed build on non-tribal land should Connecticut allow it, but the legality of the entire situation remains murky.

East Windsor Cleared

With the MGM lawsuit dismissed by the 2nd Court of Appeals, should Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy (D) sign the casino expansion bill, the tribes would be cleared to begin construction on their $300 million venue.

It’s now a race against time.

MGM is on track to open its Springfield resort next summer or fall. Their goal is to welcome guests without a competing gambling floor 13 miles south in order to establish a strong customer base.

If Malloy authorizes the East Windsor site, as he’s expected to do in the coming weeks, the tribes believe they can open their venue before MGM. However, any additional legal holdups would hamper that goal.