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Message-Id: <199504162352.TAA23980@comet.connix.com>
Date: Sun, 16 Apr 1995 19:52:55 -0400
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From: pbristol@tribal.org (Pablo (Paul) Bristol)
To: Ind-net@listproc.wsu.edu
Subject: The Moccasin is on the Other Foot

The Moccasin is on the Other Foot

By Pablo (Paul) Bristol, April 1995

For months now a drama has been playing out in Connecticut that must have the ancestors whooping it up in the other world. For when Richard (Skip) Hayward, Chairman of the Tribal Council of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, made the compact (Deal) with then Governor Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., they most certainly were involved.

Hayward met with Weicker to find a way to have slot machines at the tribe's Foxwoods Casino. Weicker, when a US Senator in the early '80s, had fought hard for the tribe's recognition. And when Federal recognition was granted, he was all smiles and available for pictures with tribal leaders.

But as Governor, Weicker had taken the position that he didn't want gambling at the tribal reservation, Mashantucket. The way the Indian Gaming regulations were, the tribe could only offer games currently legal in the state. This made little difference at first, because the tribe was strugling and trying to stay afloat. They cut and sold firewood, raised hydroponic lettuce and pigs and petitioned HUD for funds for housing that, it was hoped, would attract members back to the reservation. Nothing seemed to work well until one day, Bingo! The tribe decided to open a high stakes bingo game, (bingo was legal in the state).

Successful, the tribe looked into expanding to a casino. Two problems... (1) Not enough money and (2) Governor Weicker's opposition. The banks would have nothing to do with them. And when it was ruled that charity run Casino Nights (Where fake money was purchased, gambled with and used to purchase prises at the completition of the evening) were enough to allow the tribe's move, Weicker threatened to abolish Casino Nights all together. Well the charities fought and Casino Nights remained. The tribe found some Malaysian financing and Mashantucket had a casino.

But one thing was missing...... Slot Machines! These were not legal in the State of Connecticut. How to be a real casino without slots.....?

Now here is where the Deal came in. Hayward went to see Weicker. He knew Weicker and both men respected each other. And, as luck(?) would have it, a long time friendly acquaintance, an attorney, was Weicker's chief of staff. So what might have been an hostile meeting turned into something like three long time acquaintances sitting around the camp fire, searching for answers. And the results were brilliant.

Skip Hayward got his slot machines. And Weicker and the State of Connecticut got 25% of the profits from these slot machines with a cap of $160 million, in effect an unheard of 25% tax on profits. The hook...... if the State of Connecticut allows any other casino or slot machines in the state, the Deal is off, terminated, kaput, nada.

The Mashantucket Pequots have been very successful. Situated half way between New York and Boston, it has a mammouth population to draw from. Since it's opening, it has expanded once and is about to expand again. And it is in the country and safe, unlike Atlantic City, it's nearest rival.

All this has not gone unnoticed. Steve Wynne, a Connecticut native who lives in Las Vegas to be close to his investments, namely the Mirage Hotel Complex and Donald Trump, an insensitive egotist from New York and Atlantic City both have been courting the State of Connecticut for permission to build a casino. To do this, casinos would have to become legal in the state as well as slot machines. Lots of money was put into lobbying and John Rowland, the current Governor got elected in part by appearing interested in putting a casino in Bridgeport, Connecticut's largest city, which, because of crime and poverty has become an eyesore and a slum.

When the boys arrived by limo to talk with the legislature, members of the Tribal Council arrived in an even bigger car. Wynne indicated that he would meet the tribal largess, which last year was $130 million, so that the state would lose nothing. But the towns and their representatives have seen the labor problems associated with Atlantic City not to mention the crime. And they know how much their share of the Pequot's millions is and what life would be like with out it.

The Governor, Rowland, has been to the Mashantucket Reservation exploring the tribe's position and the possibility of the tribe building in Bridgeport. Tribal Council members have visited the Governor's mansion for lunch. Nothing. Perhaps what's missing the the former Governor's Chief of Staff. He now works with the tribe.

It started out as a simple deal of convenience, good for both sides. But this time it can't be changed at the whim of the intruders. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation holds the fate of the state.

And what has become of the other 75%? $390 million plus the profits from the table games and resort facilities are going to expand the tribal horizons with diversity in business as well as to buy back the land taken from the tribe when it's ancestors were massacred in 1630 and the tribe nearly wiped out.

We are taught....What goes around comes around!