If gamblers cannot smoke inside Mohegan Sun, the state won’t get its money, the tribe threatened Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the tribe sent letters to Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, threatening to withhold millions of dollars in slot-machine payments to the state if the legislature approves a plan to ban smoking at the casinos.
The letters came after a bill was passed this week by the legislature's public health committee, 28-2, to ban smoking at the casinos, the Hartford Courant reports.
“As the leader of the Mohegan Tribe, it is my obligation to protect the rights of our Tribe, and all indigenous people from an overreaching state legislature. I must inform you that if this legislation is approved, the action will force us to vigorously defend our federally recognized right to govern our lands. I will be compelled to initiate legal action on behalf of the Mohegan Tribe to stop this assault on our rights,” said Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, chairman of the Mohegan Tribe.
That threat could be an expensive one. In February, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods contributed $375 million to the state.
Mohegan tribe officials said they had expanded smoke-free zones to nearly 90 percent of the Mohegan Sun property and at least 20 percent of its gaming floor, including all public areas where minors are allowed.
Rell said that negotiations on this secondhand smoke issue are preferable to a protracted and expensive legal fight, Rell’s spokesperson said. Blumenthal has not responded.