Foxwoods prevails in suit against the town of Ledyard, Conn.

Apr 2, 2012 9:16 AM

Once again, it appeared that the sovereignty aspect of a Native American tribe was being questioned when the town of Ledyard, Conn., attempted to tax leased slot machines being operated at the Foxwoods Resort Casino.

The town officials admitted that as a federally-recognized tribe the Mashantucket Pequots were not subject to property taxes but they charged that the slot machines in their casino, that were owned by slot manufacturing companies, were subject to being taxed.

The tribe argued the taxes, collected since 2003, violated federal law.

A judge agreed.

U.S. District Court Judge Warren Eginton has ruled in favor of the tribe. He said the town’s interest in taxing the leased equipment failed to justify the economic burden on the tribe and cited the tribe’s self-determination and self-government.

The judge added that taxes on non-Indian entities that can be passed onto the tribe have not been historically upheld.

In a statement issued following the ruling, the tribe stated, "The court’s decision definitively upholds the federal and tribal interests in tribal self-determination and self-government, and determines that these significant interests outweighed any interest the town or state has to impose a tax on reservation."

It’s not like the town doesn’t benefit tax-wise from having the casino within its borders. The tribe pointed out that it is the largest property taxpayer within Ledyard, paying about $1 million in real and personal property taxes for property located outside the reservation.