The Department of the Interior gave its approval Thursday for a tribal casino in East Windsor, according to officials.
"Today is a great day for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the State of Connecticut, especially given our 400-year history together, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Chairman Rodney Butler said in a release.
The Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegan tribe entered a joint agreement to build the casino in East Windsor.
MMCT Venture, the joint company of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes, has proposed opening the $300 million 188,000 -square foot gaming and entertainment facility in spring 2020. It would include around 1,800 slot machines, 50 table games and 10 poker tables.
Butler said news of the approval means the tribes will move forward with construction of the casino, which is located just off Interstate 91.
Supporters argue this casino would compete with the new MGM casino that recently opened Springfield, Massachusetts and preserve jobs and revenue in Connecticut.
MGM has been fighting the tribes on the issue and argues it was not given equal opportunity to compete for a casino license at the same time. The company has been pushing a proposal to redevelop the waterfront in Bridgeport.
Uri Clinton of MGM Resorts International released the following statement on the vote:
“The Attorney General’s office has repeatedly warned, as recently as last year, that pursuing a no-bid approach in East Windsor would expose Connecticut to significant legal risks. As MGM has always stated, we will continue to pursue all legal options, including litigation, to defend our right to compete in Connecticut.
"While we assess the planned Interior Department publication, the fundamentals haven’t changed. MGM remains steadfast in our view that Bridgeport is the best location in Connecticut for a commercial casino if the state is to maximize jobs, economic growth, tourism, and revenue - and a transparent, competitive process is in the state’s best interest.”
There have also been concerns about potential increases in problem gambling, crime and traffic.
Gov. Ned Lamont's office released the following statement:
“We are very pleased that the Interior Department has decided to approve the amendments to Mashantucket Gaming Procedures and Memorandum of Understanding. Approval of these amendments ensures that any state law authorizing MMCT to operate a commercial casino off of the tribal reservations will do no harm to the state’s existing revenue sharing agreements with the tribes. We remain committed to working with the tribes toward a global resolution of all outstanding legal issues or obstacles that may arise out of this decision, including any lawsuits third parties may bring against the state law that now authorizes MMCT to operate a commercial casino in East Windsor.”