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State received Schaghticoke tribe's application 'in error,' Merrill says

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Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says her office "received in error" the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation's application to form a "tribal business entity" to pursue development of a commercial casino in Connecticut.

Richard Velky, chief of the Kent-based tribe, announced late Tuesday that Merrill's office had approved the tribe's "Confluence of Rivers Business Entity LLC" and that the tribe intended "in due course to issue a request for proposals to municipalities regarding the establishment of a possible casino gaming facility in a municipality."

The tribe cited the provisions of Special Act 15-7, which the state legislature approved late last year. The law applied specifically to a tribal business entity "owned exclusively by both the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut."

"The Special Act created a unique situation that raised the bar for review. In this case it looks like the application was received in error," Merrill said Wednesday in a statement. "In 99.99 percent of the cases, we have to receive and file an LLC application without regard to the stated purpose of the entity. Anyone can start a business and we believe it should be easy to do. It appears in this case that the application meets the standard to create an LLC but not the requirements of the Special Act. We are looking into what additional action should be taken."

Special Act 15-7 enabled the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes, respective owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, to establish a joint business entity to pursue Connecticut's third casino. The entity, MMCT Venture, has accepted casino site proposals from four municipalities in the Hartford area, where tribes hope to develop a casino to compete against MGM Springfield, a $950 million resort casino under construction in Massachusetts.

Any deal an entity negotiates with a host town would be subject to approval by the legislature, which would have to vote to legalize commercial gaming in the state.

MGM Resorts International, developer of the Springfield casino, has sued state officials over Special Act 15-7, claiming it is unconstitutional.

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