Mashantucket leader predicts years until casino recoversWednesday, April 7, 2010
The new chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut believes it could take years before the economy recovers.
Rodney Butler, 33, said the tribe's gaming enterprise took a bit hit when the economy collapsed. Patrons at Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods are spending less than they used to, he said.
The tribe has stopped big gaming projects as a result. Some smaller ones are going through in hopes of keeping people coming to the reservations.
"I don’t see it recovering quickly," Butler told Indian Country Today of the economy. "It’s a fragile foundation where things can go worse.”
The tribe is still in negotiations with lenders over $2 billion in gaming-related debt. But Butler said the tribe is not trying to test the reach of federal bankruptcy laws in Indian Country.
“We could have taken a stance – and there were some indications early on – that we’re just going to hide behind the vagueness of the law and say, ‘You know what? Forget everybody, we’re just going to walk away,’” Butler told ICT. “It’s a long process; I can’t predict how long it will take. But at the end of the day, the sole purpose for this facility being here is for the benefit and sustainability of the tribe, and that always has to be in everyone’s mind through these discussions."
EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Does the economic situation that is affecting the Mashantucket Pequots also affect the Mohegan Tribe? You bet it does.
How much is the Mohegan Tribe's debt? What can the tribes do? Have the tribal leaders failed their members? What do you think?