Here are the briefs in Tassone v. Foxwoods Resort Casino:
In the early 1970s, just one resident remained on a Pequot reservation in Ledyard, now the site of Foxwoods — an elderly woman named Elizabeth George. Her grandson was Richard Hayward (known as Skip), a pipe welder and a former short-order cook with an audacious vision, innate political skills and a flair for dealmaking. Through his efforts, the tribe won federal recognition in 1983. In 1986, it opened a high-stakes bingo hall. Full-blown casino gambling came to Foxwoods in 1992 and in the two decades since has produced not millions but billions of dollars of revenue. Not surprisingly, the casino and its largess rejuvenated the tribe, whose population is now about 900. (Members trace their bloodlines to 11 Pequot families counted in a 1900 census.)
These days the tribe is dealing with the latest improbability in its turbulent history: financial havoc. The casino is underwater, like a five-bedroom Spanish colonial in a Nevada subdivision. The Pequots misjudged the market, borrowed too much and expanded unwisely. Foxwoods’s debt is on a scale befitting the size of the property — $2.3 billion.
Here are two news articles on the question. The first (here) details the Town of Ledyard’s crusade to collect taxes on the non-Indian owners of the slot machines used at Foxwoods. An excerpt:
Other grievances, not surprisingly, involve money – particularly the sovereign nation’s deal to pay the state a quarter of its slot machine revenues instead of local taxes on reservation property in the northeastern corner of Ledyard.
Though the town grudgingly concedes it can’t collect these revenues, it has for years been trying to levy taxes on personal property owned by non-Indians on reservation lands – specifically slot machines that a New Jersey company leases to the tribe.
Six years ago the tribe and Atlantic City Coin & Slot Service sued Ledyard to block these taxes, claiming such municipal action disregards well-established principles of federal Indian law and interferes with the tribe’s gaming operations, self-determination and sovereign immunity.
So far, the town has spent $900,000 fighting the litigation – a whopping sum that could have been used to hire teachers, repave miles of roads or buy thousands of new library books.
The second (here) includes a quote on the Indian law implications of the case:
Bethany Berger, a professor of Indian law at the University of Connecticut School of Law, said that taxation of non-Indians and their property on tribal lands is complicated. Berger, co-author and member of the editorial board of Felix S. Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law, the pre-eminent treatise in the field, does not think Ledyard’s case is a strong one.
“The machines are leased by the tribe as part of this federally regulated business that the tribe has a big interest in,” she said, adding that the interests of the state of Connecticut in the matter may not be as strong as Ledyard officials hope.
“With respect to state interest, it can’t just be revenue-raising interest,” Berger said. “Ledyard wants to make money by taxing the machines, and that’s not the kind of interest that’s really important. The federal interest is very strong because of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the tribal interest is also strong because this is the business that provides most of the tribe’s revenue.”
Here is the order in Davis v. Senibaldi (Conn. Sup. Ct.):
The tribes and tribal reps are third parties to a dram shop action, and the court held that sovereign immunity required the quashing on the subpoena.
News article here. An excerpt:
Anticipating the end of monthly distributions of gaming profits to tribal members, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council late last year enacted a law to protect the tribe’s older, needy members.
The law provides for up to $50,000 a year in financial assistance for “elders,” who are defined for the purposes of the law as those 60 and older as well as those who were at least 55 as of Dec. 31, 2010. The assistance was to begin Jan. 1, the law states.
It’s estimated that about 80 members of the 850-member tribe are at least 55 years old.
Under the new law, elders are eligible to receive annual assistance equal to a “standard of need,” with the amount of the assistance reduced by “offset income” the elder receives in excess of $25,000.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut is doing its part to make its casinos friendly to lesbian, gay bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) employees.
The tribe has implemented an equal employment policy for LGBT workers and same-sex couples are also eligible for medical benefits. The tribe also added LGBT businesses to its list of minority-owned businesses.
“Our Pequot culture has endured a lot of discrimination over the centuries so we understand the importance of being able to embrace all the freedoms” said tribal spokesperson Lori Potter, The New London Day reported.