Leaders of Connecticut tribes launch pursuit of jointly operated casino north of Hartford

Leaders of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes formally approved their partnership Thursday intended to halt an exodus of gamblers to Massachusetts and the loss of industry jobs.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantuckets, and Kevin Brown, the Mohegan chairman, announced at a signing ceremony at the Capitol the selection of a Connecticut real estate firm to administer the tribes' request for proposals for a jointly operated casino. It would be established along the Interstate 91 corridor in north-central Connecticut.

The tribes, backed by the legislature and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, hope to compete with the planned MGM Resorts casino in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Butler said the tribes have had "a complicated history stretching over 400 years," but that they are joining to fight the threat posed by MGM Springfield.

"It's not just about the fate of our casinos — it's about the state of Connecticut," Brown said.

A report released earlier this year estimated that casino projects in Massachusetts and New York could jeopardize more than 9,000 jobs in Connecticut. About $600 million to $700 million a year in revenue could be at stake.

Legislation approved this year establishes a two-step procedure for the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to possibly open a satellite tribal casino. The tribes would issue a request for proposals from municipalities interested in hosting one satellite casino.

MGM has challenged the law, claiming in a federal lawsuit that it's unconstitutional because it allows only the tribes to pursue a commercial, off-reservation casino in the state.