Interior agency delayed tribal casino approval after competitor’s lobbying: report

Interior agency delayed tribal casino approval after competitor’s lobbying: report
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A pair of American Indian tribes are accusing Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' MORE and an agency in his department of slow-walking approval for a casino they want to build, Politico reported.

The Interior Department decided to exceed the 45-day limit after officials spoke with MGM Resorts International, a casino giant that opposes the Connecticut casino and is developing a competing project in nearby Massachusetts.

Documents obtained by Politico show that Interior officials had numerous calls and meetings with MGM and Republican lawmakers who support its position, but there is no evidence that the casino issue came up.

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The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes sued Zinke and Interior in federal court over the delay.

“It’s 100 percent about delaying us for as long as they possibly can,” Andrew Doba, a spokesman for the joint venture the tribes formed, told Politico.

Interior, as the department responsible for the federal government’s relations with tribes, is obligated to review changes to state gambling agreements with tribes.

But in the case, Associate Deputy Interior Secretary James Cason said such a decision would be “premature” and his department had “insufficient information” to make it, Politico reported.

Interior did not respond to Politico’s requests for comment, nor did representatives of Nevada's Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerNevada becomes early Senate battleground Nevada governor Sisolak injured in car accident, released from hospital Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada MORE or Rep. Mark AmodeiMark Eugene AmodeiGOP lawmakers introduce measure in support of Columbus Day Democratic poll finds Cortez Masto leading Laxalt by 4 points in Nevada Senate race Western US airports face jet fuel shortage MORE, both Republicans.