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Schaghticoke Tribe Withdraws Casino Lawsuit

(CBS Connecticut) — The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation has withdrawn its lawsuit that challenged the process the state used to pick two other tribes to run what would be Connecticut’s third casino.

In paperwork filed in federal court, the tribe says it voluntarily dismisses the case without prejudice.  That means the tribe reserves the right to resume the lawsuit in the future, if it chose to do so.

The tribe’s lawsuit was being paid for by MGM, which is opening a rival casino north of the state line in Massachusetts.

MGM had filed its own separate lawsuit seeking to block the Connecticut casino.

Connecticut successfully got a federal court judge to dismiss the MGM lawsuit, although MGM is appealing that decision.

Court documents show that lawyers in the Schaghticoke case were arguing over a similar Connecticut motion to dismiss.

An attorney for the Schaghticokes says the tribal nation wanted to focus its efforts on the upcoming legislative session.

“While Schaghticoke Tribal Nation (STN) believes that Special Act 15-7 violates the United States and Connecticut Constitutions in several ways, including by denying STN a fair and equal opportunity to compete for the State’s first commercial casino, we are choosing to focus our resources on the upcoming 2017 legislative session, which will present a critical opportunity for the General Assembly to fix Special Act 15-7’s anti-competitive and unconstitutional framework,” Schaghticoke Tribal Nation Chairman Richard Velky said in a written statement issued by a public relations firm. “STN will continue to evaluate its options for litigation after the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rules on MGM’s appeal, and after the 2017 legislative session.”

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation had argued that the state unfairly selected the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, without giving other tribes the option of seeking to get involved.

A call was left with the Schaghticoke’s chief.  The Connecticut Attorney General’s office declined to comment.

Some Connecticut officials say a new Connecticut casino would Hartford-area keep gamblers — and their dollars — in the state, instead of allowing them drive north to a new casino in Springfield.

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